For Preschoolers about to start School and Primary School Students


Average age children learn to pronounce English consonants correctly (Based on 15 English speech acquisition studies compiled by McLeod and Crowe, 2018)


McLeod, S. & Crowe, K. (2018). Children’s consonant acquisition in 27 languages: A cross-linguistic review. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology. doi:10.1044/2018_AJSLP-17-0100. Available from: https://ajslp.pubs.asha.org/article.aspx?articleid=2701897

Speech Sound Disorders

'Speech' refers to the sounds that children use to make words so they can be understood.


Speech sounds develop in stages however there will always be individual variations of speech sound development between children.

A speech therapist works out the following:


1) An articulation disorder is when a child can not accurately make speech sounds.


2) A phonological processing disorder is when a child is unable to organise their sounds into a system of patterns that can be understood. These children mix up their sounds in different word positions that make them sound unintelligible in conversation.


3) A motor planning difficulty is when children have difficulty in making and coordinating the precise movements needed to produce clear speech. 

Developmental Language Disorder (DLD)

A speech therapist can help work out if your child has difficulty thinking about, understanding and using language.


Children who have persistent difficulty with language can have a Developmental Language Disorder. This is known as a hidden disability affecting 1 in 14 children. 


DLD can run in families and has a significant impact on the student such as:

1) Learning the meaning of words and how they are related

2) Using grammar and structuring sentences

3) Understanding the rules of conversation and social interactions

4) Reading, writing and listening skills and learning in the classroom. 

Difficulty with language skills can cause difficulty with written expression and reading comprehension skills at school. 

speech langauge needs diagram.jpg

Figure 1. Venn diagram illustrating the relationship between different speech and language terminology (Bishop et al., 2017).

Bishop, D. V. M., Snowling, M. J., Thompson, P. A., Greenhalgh, T., & the CATALISE Consortium. (2017). CATALISE: a multinational and multidisciplinary Delphi consensus study of problems with language development. Phase 2. Terminology. PeerJ Preprints, 5, e2484v2482. doi:10.7287/peerj.preprints.2484v2


Written Expression

Written expression skills become important as children progress through primary school.


Written expression involves foundational 'transcription' skills like handwriting, spelling and punctuation. These skills should be developed to automaticity so students can focus on 'composition' skills like grammar, vocabulary, word choice, and the organisation of ideas for a particular text type. Children with DLD often have difficulties with written expression. 

Children with solid oral language skills who have persistent and enduring difficulty with written expression after explicit and targeted instruction may be diagnosed with a Specific Learning Disorder with written impairment. 

The writing rope diagram shows all the sub-skills required to write well. Written expression is a complex cognitive task that requires explicit instruction and lots of practise.