How can I help address inequalities and support the development of attention and listening skills and speech, language and communication in 3-5s?

Quick links:

Key messages for parents, grandparents and other care-givers

Those who care for children can be supported to aid the development of listening and attention skills and speech, language and communication in 3-5s through promotion of the following key messages. Parents, grandparents and other care-givers should be encouraged to:

  • Play and speak at their child's eye level and, as much as possible, while face-to-face with them.
  • Avoid distracting background noise (e.g. television or radio on all the time).
  • Respond to their baby pointing and reaching by naming and picking up toys or objects they gesture towards.
  • Talk about what's happening and what they're doing - children understand long before they can respond with speech and learn lots of new words.
  • Allow time for their child to respond.
  • Clearly repeat any words or part words their child says.
  • Read to their child daily. If reading is a problem for a parent, grandparent or carer, they can be encouraged to simply talk about the pictures in books.
  • Access age-appropriate books - as many as possible. For example, by encouraging them to join their local library and check charity shops for free or cheap books.
  • Limit television viewing - playing with toys and listening to stories are better for language development.

Further tips, advice and suggestions for activities for parents and carers are available online at the Play, Talk, Read website.

The following cartoon-based resource developed by Speech and Language Therapists may also be useful: Words together (MSWord Download - 3 MB).

Please also see below for further resources.

Nursery school staff and childminders

In addition to the above advice for parents:

  • ensure Book Bug books and CDs have been received
  • encourage library visits and membership
  • be aware of the advice and checklists given above in Identifying those at risk
  • encourage parents to seek further help early.

Lots of tips, advice and suggestions for activities are available online at the Play, Talk, Read website.

Please also see below for further resources.

Health visitors and social workers

Health visitors and social workers can assist in the following ways:

  • Be alert to the indicators of potential speech and language development problems.
  • Use the Lothian guidelines for referral to SLT (MSWord Download - 116Kb) (or similar) and refer at the earliest opportunity.
  • Encourage parents to play with and talk to their children while 'on a level with them'.
  • Highlight the importance of a quality learning environment over that of household socioeconomic status.
  • Ensure receipt of Book Bug resources.
  • Encourage visits to library.
  • Encourage engagement with group-based parental support.
  • Encourage enrolment into pre-school education.

Please also see the advice given below for Midwives, GPs, practice nurses.

back to top

Service managers and commissioners

Service managers and commissioners can:

  • ensure services are accessible to all, relevant to vulnerable families and consistent with public sector policy commitments
  • ensure public health campaigns and information on services are accessible to those with a range of communication support needs
  • ensure that staff who have contact with parents are able (and have the time) to clearly explain any advice or information given in ways the parents can understand.

Midwives, GPs, practice nurses

Midwives, GPs and practice nurses should be alert to the indicators of potential speech and language development problems and use the Lothian guidelines for referral to SLT (MSWord Download - 116Kb) (or similar).

Where problems are suspected, an approach of 'watchful waiting' is not appropriate, as the evidence base strongly supports the effectiveness of early intervention.

Thus it is essential that referrals to Speech and Language Therapy take place as early as possible.

In addition, midwives, GPs and practice nurses can assist by:

The 'Teach-Back Technique' can also be used to help ensure that important information that has been conveyed to someone has been adequately understood: Teach-Back Technique Postcard (Download PDF - 360kb).

For information on local Speech and Language Therapists and services, you may wish to contact the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists in Scotland.

Contact Kim Hartley - kim.hartley@rcslt.org or call 0131 226 5250.

back to top

Voluntary sector workers and managers

Those in the voluntary sector can:

  • be aware of the Lothian guidelines for referral to SLT (MSWord Download - 116Kb) and encourage parents to seek help in the event of problems at the earliest opportunity
  • encourage parents to play with and talk to their children while 'on a level with them'
  • highlight the importance of a quality learning environment over that of household socioeconomic status
  • ensure receipt of Book Bug resources
  • encourage visits to library
  • encourage engagement with group-based parental support where available
  • encourage enrolment into pre-school education
  • ensure staff are appropriately educated and trained to be able to recognise and work with individuals with communication support needs
  • make information available in a variety of formats, including audio versions.

Speak to your local speech and language therapy service for support in identifying and working with children with delayed communication development and with parents with CSN.

The 'Teach-Back Technique' helps ensure that important information has been adequately understood by people with CSN: Teach-Back Technique Postcard (Download PDF - 360kb).

For information on local Speech and Language Therapists and services, you may wish to contact the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists in Scotland.

Contact Kim Hartley - kim.hartley@rcslt.org or call 0131 226 5250.

back to top

You may also be interested in

  • External Resource

    Cleft Lip and Palate Association (CLAPA)

    This charity offers information and support to children with cleft lips and palates. It also provides information and resources for health professionals.

    • When was this published? 8/17/2010
  • External Resource

    I Can website

    To support children with speech and language difficulties.

    • When was this published? 3/17/2011
  • External Resource

    Literacy Trust

    The National Literacy Trust campaigns to reduce the number of illiterate adults in the UK.

    • When was this published? 9/26/2010
  • External Resource

    National Association of Toy and Leisure Libraries

    The national body for toy and leisure libraries in the UK.

    • When was this published? 8/17/2010
  • External Resource

    NHS Lothian: Additional support for learning website

    Including information on: preparing the child to listen supporting children sharing books nursery choice charts staying on task supporting the child’s understanding in the classroom strategies for the staff

    • When was this published? 5/7/2013
  • External Resource

    Oh Lila- A new resource produced by Alcohol Focus Scotland for use with children aged 3 to 5 years

    Alcohol Focus Scotland has developed a range of resources for working which aim to build resilience and protective factors. The 'Oh Lila' learning resource can be used with children age three to five years. It tells the story of a young hare called Lila, who gets herself into trouble.

    • When was this published? 5/21/2012
  • External Resource

    The pupil who stammers - information for teachers

    This leaflet gives advice to staff about how to support a child who stammers in the classroom. Liaison with parents and a speech and language therapist is always recommended.

    • When was this published? 3/17/2011
  • External Resource

    Words together

    A cartoon-based resource with the key messages for parents to support speech and language development, once speech starts. Developed by Gretel McEwan, Lynn Jones & Foundrymedia