Literacy development and Treatment

What are literacy skills?

Learning to read and write is a crucial part of a child’s development. Reading and writing (literacy) are essential skills for adulthood. Being literate means that people can understand and follow written instructions, find out information online or in books, write letters and emails, and send text messages. It also means that a child is able to participate fully in their education and learning.

Skills for literacy

Research has found that some of the essential skills that children need to be able to learn to read and write are:

  • An understanding that the words we say are made up of sounds and to be able to hear these sounds (e.g. cat has three sounds c-a-t). This is known as phonological awareness.
  • An understanding that letters represent sounds and that these are the sounds we use in English. Children need to be able to remember the sound of each letter quickly and easily. This is known as
  • Knowledge that written words can be understood and that writing them in a particular order can make different meanings.

Signs that my child is having difficulty with their literacy skills

  Some early signs that your child may be developing literacy problems include:

  • Having difficulty learning and remembering new words
  • Not being able to provide simple information clearly
  • Showing poor awareness of sounds in speech
  • Not learning to recognize alphabet letters
  • Not showing any interest in listening to stories
  • Any of these difficulties with a family history of literacy difficulties

  When your child is at school some of the signs may include:

  • Not developing confidence with letters and sounds (e.g. not wanting to give spelling ‘a go’)
  • Mispronouncing several longer words (e.g. congratulations, elephant)
  • Persisting with immature grammar (e.g. she broked her glasses)
  • Not developing the ability to tell stories and give explanations

  As your child moves through the school you may notice your child:

  • Is not reading grade level texts fluently and accurately
  • Not using a strong range of spelling strategies
  • Not able to make inferences as they read, getting the main idea and reading ‘between the lines’

How do speech pathologists treat literacy problems?

As the experts in supporting children with communication difficulties, speech pathologists are able to support children with their literacy skills in the following ways:

  • Assessment of speech and language skills to determine if there are any difficulties and provide intervention and strategies to support oral language development
  • Support oral language development in areas that are relevant to literacy in preschools and schools
  • Work with educational environments and families through providing strategies in order to support children’s oral language development
  • Use their knowledge of the sound system of English to help children who are having sound-letter relationship difficulties, including phonological awareness skills of rhyme, syllabification, segmenting and blending
  • Help children use strategies for understanding what they read

Why early intervention is important:

  At school, children with reading difficulties may also have problems with:

  • Academic performance
  • Peer relationships
  • Self esteem

When literacy difficulties persist, there is often a significant impact on the person’s life. Not being able to read and write at adequate levels means the young person is at risk of having limited opportunities in life or being unemployed. Interestingly, research has also shown that they may be at risk of social issues such as imprisonment

For further reading:

There is lots of helpful information on the following website:


If you have concerns about your child’s language development or social skills, contact Young Allied Health to arrange an appointment.

Reception: 0408 166 506

 Email: [email protected]

6/56 Charles Street

Aitkenvale, QLD, 4814