Making Connections: Language & Literacy

Vanessa Poynter, MS, CCC-SLP

Did you know that there is a strong correlation between a child’s speech and language skills, and their literacy skills?  Literacy (i.e., the ability to read and write) is a valuable component when it comes to speech and language because our ability to read and write stems from our understanding of phonics and areas of language such as grammar and vocabulary.  When we are able to understand and manipulate speech sounds and sound structures— the building blocks of reading and writing—the world that is literacy knows no bounds. 

Think about it: if a child has trouble understanding or producing a specific speech sound (e.g., “k”), the child will likely have challenges reading and writing “k” as well.  Further, if a child demonstrates a language delay, he or she may have a difficult time understanding grammatical rules.  This means that the road going forward will be marked with red flags in sounding out words, decoding, reading comprehension, reading fluency, and writing in a thoughtful and logical manner. 

So how do literacy and early language marry up?  Let’s think about those pre-literacy skills that we remember from our childhood.  And I bet you’d be surprised that you were harnessing early literacy skills even when you didn’t realize it!  Also known as phonological awareness, these are the set of skills that include understanding how words are made up of individual sounds, and how these sounds come together to create different words, and how words come together to form meaning. 

Games we LOVE that build emergent literacy skills:

  • Rhyming games like The Itsy Bitsy Spider
  • Nursery rhymes like Old McDonald
  • Jump-out syllables of words (for example, have your child jump in the air each time she hears a syllable in a word)
  • Use play-doh to roll out alphabet letters that represent sounds