• User AvatarMiriam McKenzie
  • 07 May, 2023
  • 4 Mins Read

How speech delays can slow down the process of learning to read and write.

The ability to communicate is essential to human life. The ability to communicate with clear speech is possibly the easiest way to communicate. For those of us who can’t communicate through speech, finding another form to communicate is essential. Sign language is one of New Zealand’s official languages, learning to Sign helps those who find speech difficult, a really effective way to communicate.

But because I am a speech, voice and communication teacher and coach, this blog is focussing on that.

Speech allows us to convey our thoughts, feelings, and ideas to others. It is also a crucial component of learning, particularly in the areas of reading and writing. Unfortunately, poor speech can have a significant impact on a child’s ability to read and write effectively so I will provide some strategies to help lessen this issue.

First, let’s define what we mean by poor speech. Poor speech can refer to a range of issues, including speech sound disorders, language disorders, and voice disorders. Speech sound disorders involve difficulties producing certain sounds, while language disorders involve difficulties using language effectively. Voice disorders, on the other hand, involve issues with the quality or volume of the child’s voice.

One of the primary ways that poor speech affects a child’s ability to read and write is through phonemic awareness. Phonemic awareness is the ability to identify and manipulate individual sounds in spoken words. It is a critical component of early literacy development and is closely linked to reading and writing ability. Children with speech sound disorders may struggle with phonemic awareness, as they may have difficulty distinguishing between similar sounds or producing certain sounds altogether.

For example, a child with a speech sound disorder that affects their ability to produce the “s” sound may have difficulty distinguishing between words like “sit” and “fit.” This can lead to confusion when reading and writing these words, as they may not be able to differentiate between the two based on sound alone. Similarly, a child with a speech sound disorder that affects their ability to produce the “th” sound may have difficulty with words like “father” and “three.”

Language disorders can also have a significant impact on a child’s ability to read and write. Children with language disorders may struggle to understand and use language effectively, which can make it difficult to comprehend written text or express themselves in writing. For example, a child with a language disorder may have trouble understanding complex sentences or following directions, which can make it challenging to read and write effectively.

Voice disorders can also affect a child’s ability to read and write, particularly if they have a hoarse or raspy voice. This can make it difficult for others to understand them when speaking, and it may also affect their ability to produce clear and concise writing.

So, what can we do to help alleviate the impact of poor speech on children’s ability to read and write? Here are a few strategies:

  1. Seek out speech and language therapy: If you suspect that your child has a speech or language disorder, it is essential to seek out the services of a speech and language therapist or teacher. These professionals can work with your child to improve their speech and language skills, which can have a significant impact on their ability to read and write.
  2. Practise phonemic awareness activities: Phonemic awareness activities can help children with speech sound disorders improve their ability to distinguish between sounds. There are many phonemic awareness activities available online, such as sorting activities and sound blending activities. Watching a videoed lesson of the technique to produce a certain sound is extremely effective for correcting incorrect enunciation of sounds.
  3. Encourage reading and writing at home: Reading and writing at home can help children improve their literacy skills. Encourage your child to read books that are appropriate for their reading level and provide them with opportunities to write in a variety of contexts, such as journaling or writing letters to friends and family.
  4. Provide clear and concise instructions: If your child has a language disorder, it is essential to provide them with clear and concise instructions. This can help them understand what is expected of them and may make it easier for them to follow directions in the classroom. Speak in short sentences and try to eliminate too many ‘ands’. Look at your child when you speak to them!
  5. Use technology to support learning: There are many programmes that are available online that can support speech development, particularly for children with speech and language disorders. For example, Clear Speech for Children on my website or my YouTube channel also has free videos with the techniques for correct enunciation of sounds.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or would like suggestions for further help.