SP in Schools project 2017 Low Res V2

Typical speech, language and communication development

This section is provided as a resource for speech pathologists to use when you are required to present information to principals, teachers and parents. Links to websites outlining developmental milestones are included below. Level of educational attainment is one of the strongest single determinants of health on a population basis and is heavily reliant on language and literacy skills. All children and young people need to have acquired well-developed speech, language and communication skills to reach their full potential; academically, socially, vocationally, and economically. As well as being vital for learning, speech, language and communication skills are essential across the school day – for students to make friends, sort out problems and share experiences. Speech, language and communication underpin literacy and numeracy – skills which are necessary for students to understand and achieve in all key learning areas. In turn, having adequate literacy skills also contributes to children’s language skills. Speech, language and communication are closely linked to behaviour, educational outcomes, social skills and self-esteem. Language skills are innate and do not directly need to be taught when children are developing typically. However, literacy skills, in particular reading, must be explicitly taught. Children must master the basics of decoding and comprehension in the first three years of school in order to progress from “learning to read”, to “reading to learn”. Speech, language and communication needs that are evident in a child during early to mid- primary school do not resolve on transition to secondary school without appropriate intervention. Many young people with speech, language and communication needs struggle enormously with the transition to secondary school and it has been shown that many develop mental health problems such as anxiety and depression as a result. More sophisticated aspects of language develop during secondary school years: complex verbal reasoning, understanding and using figurative language, telling more involved stories, and using

increasingly sophisticated social communication skills. All of these skills are needed to access both the academic and social curriculum of school, to cope with the demands of adolescence and to ensure a successful onward transition to the workplace. As learning becomes more reliant on independent study, language enables students to make contact with others; to organise, manage and evaluate experiences; and to influence and inform. Adolescents spend more time than younger children talking to others, so becoming adept at switching between styles of language. Socially, interactions become more complex and sophisticated and interaction becomes increasingly reliant on competent communication skills; being able to hold a conversation and to put together sentences into a story or report (narrative) is integral to creating and maintaining social relationships. A focus on speech, language, and communication is seen by some as the key for young people to fit into society, and language difficulties are identified as a significant risk factor in adult outcomes (e.g., participation in education and training, and employment). Many employers place communication skills above qualifications and value young people with good communication, literacy and interaction skills, which is why we need to support those with SLCN. Some schools have an increasing emphasis on the development of functional skills for life and work and on personal learning and thinking skills. None of these can be achieved without effective communication skills. For information on milestones of primary and secondary school-aged students, see: www.raisingchildren.net.au > language development

www.talkingpoint.org.uk > ages and stages I CAN, the children’s communication charity (UK Registered charity 21003) www.icancharity.org.uk

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Speech Pathology Australia: Speech Pathology in Schools Project

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