Communication is not only about the words we use but it also involves non-verbal cues such as, tone of voice, body language, eye contact and facial expression.  Children develop their conversational skills in their preschool years by learning about communication in the context of conversations with immediate family, familiar adults, peers and teachers. Initially, their conversations are about what is happening in the moment, “here and now” and are usually short, but in time and with practise, the preschooler learns to be an effective conversationalist.

Below are some questions you could ask yourself about your child’s communication skills. If you think your child has difficulties in any of the following areas consult a speech pathologist:


  • Speech sounds: Is your child having difficulty saying certain speech sounds? Some children have trouble saying sounds (e.g. /s, k, th, f, r/) which can lead to difficulties reading and writing words effectively. Early intervention ensures the child starts school with a good knowledge of their speech sound system to learn about letters and their corresponding sounds.

  • Understanding of language: Does your child have trouble following instructions? Do they find it difficult to recall the events in a story or summarising a story? Do they have trouble responding to questions?

  • Use of language: Is your child; mixing tenses, using incorrect pronouns (e.g. “he” for she/he), having difficulty putting sentences together in a meaningful way or having trouble recounting their news?

  • Voice: Does your child have a persistently hoarse or nasal sounding voice?

  • Fluency/ stuttering: Is your child stuttering?

  • Pre-literacy skills: Is your child uninterested in books? Is he or she unable to identify the first sound in a word after you show him/her how to do this? Is he or she having trouble learning letters and numbers? If your child is reading, is he or she reading the text but is not able to answer questions about what they have just read?

  • Hearing and Vision: Has your child’s hearing and vision been assessed recently? It is important to ensure your child has good vision and adequate hearing for speech and language development and learning. Disruptions in one sensory area can affect other areas in development.

Catherine Downs

Speech Pathologist CPSP

BAppSc Speech Pathology, BA Psychology

M: 0499 150 333




Buzzwords Speech Pathology
A: Suite 3/5,

35 - 37 Perouse Road, 

Randwick, NSW, 2031