Speech and Language Development

Communication may be defined as “the process of sending and receiving messages through verbal or nonverbal means, including speech, or oral communication; writing and graphical representations (such as infographics, maps, and charts); and signs, signals, and behaviour” (Nordquist, 2021). 

Communication and language are important to children right from birth and throughout life.  It is possible to say that communication and language are like the currency for transactions in human relationships whether formal or informal; and the ability to communicate fluently and confidently can make the difference in being able to make contacts, form friendships, partnerships, or alliances; starting from the playground right up to even boardrooms in later years.

The period from birth to five in a child’s life is a time of considerable growth and brain development.  This development is particularly important for communication and language and the stage may be affected either positively or negatively by environmental factors or by the care givers that the child is surrounded by. (UNESCO, 2021) (Minnesota State Department for Education, 2021).

The ability to communicate as the child grows can help with their social and emotional development, take part in role play or form their own play with peers, make friends in their place of learning, the playground or contribute to social situations.

Supporting the Development of Speech and Language

Children are naturally curious beings; the role of parents and carers in helping to further the communication and language of children by using this curiosity as a launchpad is particularly important.

The starting point is to promote a love of language and learning is an adult who has a firm understanding of positive interactions.  Children are fascinated by sound and picture, and this is evidenced by the fact that even when quite little they will respond to the voice of their primary carer (mum) by turning towards the direction of the sound.  This curiosity can then be used to promote a love of language learning. Also, it is important to create a communication friendly environment by adding resources that are interesting, attractive either in look or texture and can facilitate conversation.  Parents and carers can help to support the development of Speech and Language by the doing the following.

Turn off the TV

Research has shown that TV is linked with slower language acquisition because TV time tends to displace conversation time between babies and adults.  The more time children spend watching television, the more slowly they learn to talk. To this end we advise that you turn off the TV and talk to your baby. Talk to them about everything, what needs to go on the shopping list, what you’re making for tea. Look at them when you’re talking to them, this is the start of early interactions.

Your baby will be developing fast, keep on talking, and explaining, this will support their communication greatly, “time to go to the shop, I have my purse, my shopping list, my keys, let’s go.” “I can see a bird in the tree.”

Get down and play with me!!

Talk to them about everything, create and role play with them while explaining everything that you are doing. Get involved in their world and enjoy their play with them.

Talking time is anytime

Use anytime and every time as an opportunity to talk to your children, there is no set time or subject, the more interactions that you have with them the better.

Other ways that speech and language development can be supported include but are not limited to:

reading books and acting them out

singing and reciting nursery rhythms and rhymes

using puppets and story stones. 

Stages of Communication and Language Development 

Communication and language development in children is a gradual process which consists of various stages that can be influenced by having attentive carers or adults in the life of the child.  Below are examples of this stages.

0-6 Months

At this stage children have differentiated cry for different needs, they turn to the sound of familiar voices and hold the gaze of the carer, they make cooing and other sounds and mimic carers laugh or expression.

6-12 Months

The child at this time loves to play peek-a-boo, they can start to say ‘mama’ or ‘dada’ and may know the name of objects that they are familiar with, they will start to enjoy songs and rhymes

12 – 18 Months

Children can start to use up to twenty single words at this time, enjoy singing, they can understand and carry out simple instructions, they can start to name simple body part and show their enjoyment for stories.

18 – 24 Months

They can spend longer time on activities, they can start to imitate simple words like ‘all done’ using 3 or more single words

2 – 3 Years

Two is the age of the realisation of ‘me’, they can be understood by carers, they may use 2–3-word phrases and will start to ask lots of question even though they may struggle to say some words.

3 – 4 Years

Children can introduce self with their full name, age, and gender, they can describe events that happened in the past; they may still get the tenses wrong, they can however, answer “Who?” “What?” “Where?” and “Why?” questions.

4 – 5 Years

Children can engage in longer conversations with adults and other children, answer questions to a story that they have listened to, understand what is said to them, understand sequential instructions, they can understand and use basic rules of grammar.


If you have any concerns about your child’s speech or would like more information on how to support their language development; please email senco@newbeginnings-nursery.co.uk