5 Skills Your Child Must Have Before Starting School

Are you wondering if your child is ready for school next year? This is an important article that could make the world of difference to your child’s schooling success.


“Children who know numbers, can write their name and read letters before starting school are no more successful than those who can’t.  You need to know the critical skills children must have before school to be successful.”


If children have not developed these critical skills and have not received effective intervention from a passionate health professional then they will struggle to learn at school, lack self-confidence and as they get older the gap won’t be able to be reversed.

When your child sees a health professional, someone who lives and breathes treating delays in development every day, someone who is passionate and celebrates your child’s wins, you’ll finally be in the right hands. Your child will then develop the critical skills they need and in doing so gain confidence, make friends and succeed at school.


“Forget about your child knowing numbers, letters and colours and the plethora of ‘school readiness’ programs out there.  There is NO evidence to show these make a difference to a child’s academic, social or emotional success”


If you want to set your child up for success at school then keep reading. Knowing about these next five skills might just change your child’s life.

#1 Language skills

These skills are proven by research to impact on a child’s academic achievement.  Children need to be able to put sentences together, ask and answer questions, tell short stories, use correct grammar and more in order to thrive at school.

#2 Resilience

This is all about being able to ‘bounce back’ after a challenge and research has also shown this is a critical skills for schooling success. Children need to be able turn around their thoughts and self-talk when the going gets tough and think positively.

#3 Fine motor skills

Another set of skills proven to have an effect on a child’s learning is their fine motor skills. They need them to do up buttons, unzip their jumper and write with a pencil.  All incredibly important things to be able to do at school.

#4 Concentration

Concentration is another key skill children must have for success both at school and in life.  They’ve got to able to focus and pay attention to learn new things and complete tasks.  And this includes being able to concentrate on story books.

#5 Social skills

Both in and out of the classroom, school days are filled with taking turns, solving problems, negotiating and understanding other people’s points of view.  These social skills are essential for children to achieve success at school.


If you want to check your child has all the critical skills for schooling success then you’ll be glad to learn that we’ve developed the ‘Get Set for School’ checklist.  It’s an easy to follow checklist to help you set your child up for success.  It covers the critical skills proven to improve your child’s academic, social and emotional success at school as well as ways you can help your child develop these critical skills at home.  To get it, simply click here  and you’ll get access to your FREE download.

3 ways to help your child play well with others

Is your child having trouble playing with other children? If you answered yes, then keep reading!

If your child is having difficulty playing with other children, this can impact their ability to form and maintain meaningful friendships and thrive in day-to-day activities. By developing this skill, you will have a child who can build long-lasting friendships, feel confident in understanding and talking about their emotions and can support and respect others when playing together.

So, if you’d like to help your child play well with others, check out our top 3 tips below:

Play a game that requires taking turns

Children typically love playing games and you will sometimes find they would much rather take all the turns themselves than share them around, especially when they’re younger. Playing a game that requires them to have to take turns is a great way to introduce the importance of turn taking and encourage your child to say whose turn it is in the game, for example ‘my turn’, ‘your turn.’ Using direct language to explain to your child what they’re expected to do in a game helps them to learn how to appropriately take turns.

Talk about emotions and help your child to tell you how they feel in different situations

We all experience lots of emotions throughout our everyday lives and the same goes for children, especially when they're playing (and possibly losing). However, for children these feelings can be quite scary and overwhelming at times. Talking about how your child is feeling and labelling their emotions allows your child to develop a healthy understanding and acceptance of their feelings and know it is normal to feel different emotions during different situations.

Make sure you win the game sometimes

We’re all guilty of it, letting your child win every game that is played to avoid them getting upset or having a tantrum. However, making sure you win the game sometimes is super important so they can learn to cope with a loss. Showing them how to react and manage disappoint is a great way to teach this skill. Providing them with a number of opportunities to practice will help your child learn how to deal with loss and disappointment in a game, as well as teach them good sportsmanship and respect towards others they are playing with.

If you’re worried about your child’s play skills, a paediatric speech pathologist can help. Please feel free to send an email to info@talkplaygrow.com.au and we will be sure to get back to you.

3 ways to support children with Autism

As part of Autism Awareness Month we thought we’d share with you 3 of our top tips for supporting children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). There’s a saying that if you’ve met one child with autism, you’ve met one child with autism. And it’s so true! By its nature, autism is a spectrum, with each child having their own combination of strengths and difficulties. Even though every child is unique, there are some key ways we can help support all children with autism so they can reach their goals, whatever those may be.

So, here are 3 of our top tips for supporting children with ASD...

TIP #1 - Create a consistent routine

We all tend to enjoy some consistency and routine in our lives however for children with ASD this is even more important. Consistent routines are something they rely on to understand their world and feel calm. Regularity in mealtimes, school, therapy appointments, and bedtime makes their day more predictable which reduces anxiety and increases calm. Disruptions will happen from time to time but try to keep them to a minimum and stick to your schedule. If a change to your routine is needed try to give your child as much notice as possible beforehand and talk about it regularly with them in the lead up to the change. 

TIP #2 - Use visuals to support understanding

The problem with words is they’re so transient. Spoken one second and gone the next! This puts an enormous load on our brains to process the information quickly and remember it. For children with ASD we know this is much harder from them to do. Visuals, or pictures that represent words, lighten that load. The pictures stay put and your child can refer back to them whenever they need to. Visuals can be used throughout your day. They can be used to show your child their routine for the day, the steps they need to complete for everyday tasks (e.g. going to the toilet), understand abstract concepts like emotions and more.. 

TIP #3 - Use their interests to teach them new skills

All children have things that interest them more than others. Children with ASD are no different. There’ll be things that interest them a lot and things they’re not interested in at all. Finding out their interests and incorporating them when you’re playing or talking to your child will help them pay attention and learn from you. Some parents worry that entertaining their interests will make them fixate on them even more however this is not the case. Using their interests will help them to engage with you and when they’re engaged you can gently introduce new ways of playing or new topics to talk about.

We hope you found this article useful? Please feel free to click the share button and help spread the word. All children deserve to be supported to achieve their full potential.


Christmas Gift Ideas

Looking for some last minute stocking fillers or a Christmas present for under the tree?  The masses of toys you find in the stores can be rather overwhelming.  You may find yourself asking which ones will they enjoy and will they also help with their development? To help you choose, we've put together of few of our top suggestions for some great presents this Christmas that everyone will love and won't send you rushing out for more batteries on Boxing Day.

  1. An experience voucher.  It may the the zoo, a wildlife park, adventure park, water park, aquarium or science centre.  There are so many fabulous places for children of different ages.  Your child will love spending time with you and seeing something new.  And, of course, it's the perfect opportunity for them to learn new things too!
  2. Construction toys.  Think soft or plastic blocks for babies, wooden blocks or Mega Blocks for toddlers, Duplo or LEGO for preschoolers and Technic LEGO for school children.  They will spend hours constructing whilst using their imagination and motor skills.
  3. Books.  The benefits of books are enormous!  For younger children, colourful picture books and books with lots of repetition and rhythmical language are great.  Some wonderful authors include Mem Fox, Pamela Allen, Eric Carle and Julia Donaldson. For older children, you'll probably know what they're interested in reading.  Some great series include Billy B Brown, the Treehouse series, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, The Bad Guys and Captain Underpants.

There are lots of more specific and detailed suggestions out there.  Here's one link we particularly like if you're needing a bit more inspiration...


One of the things you'll notice about these lists is that the toys do not need batteries! Studies have found that toys with lights, sounds and automatic actions actually reduce the number of ways a child will play with it and reduces that amount of talking that happens during their play.

We hope you and your family have a wonderful Christmas and you find a gift that's your child loves.

Happy Christmas shopping!

The 3 biggest myths that parents must know about their child’s hearing

Does your child have a delay in their talking or pronunciation?  Then you need to read on to make sure that you’re getting them the right help.


Your child’s ability to hear well is absolutely essential for them to develop age appropriate speech and language skills


Without adequate hearing levels your child will fall behind in their talking, their speech will be unclear and they may experience social isolation and behavioural challenges.

Every day we see children with delays in their communication and social skills and behavioural challenges.  One of the most important thing parents must do when their child is having these difficulties is to get their hearing checked.  Now many parents ask us why this needs to happen. The following three myths are the most common ones parents believe that make them question why a hearing test is needed.


Myth #1 They had their hearing checked at birth and it was fine

Granted, the screening that children in Australia have at birth is a fantastic initiative for identifying early the 1 in 1000 children who have are born with a hearing loss.  The problem is children’s hearing can change over time.  They can get fluid in their middle ear that can affect their hearing.  They can have a progressive hearing loss that leads to their hearing deteriorating over time. By the time children are at school 3 in 1000 children will have a hearing loss. That’s a big jump in numbers from birth!


Myth #2 They hear when the TV's turned on in another room

Children with milder hearing losses will hear sounds around them.  They’ll hear a bunch of speech sounds too.  These children are the ones who sometimes “go under the radar” because they will follow your instructions, they might answer your questions.  But they don’t hear the sounds with the same quality as a person with typical hearing levels.  And as they get older, difficulties will emerge.  Their speech will be unclear and they will have trouble listening and understanding language in more complex listening environments where distance and noise is involved, such as, a classroom.


Myth #3 There’s no history of hearing loss in my family

A family history of hearing loss is definitely a risk factor for a child having a hearing loss.  But did you know 9 out of 10 children born with a hearing loss have parents with no hearing loss?  There are a wide range of causes of hearing loss and only around 40-50% of congenital sensorineural hearing loss (hearing loss present at birth and affecting the inner ear) can be attributed to genetics.  This means there are plenty of families with no history of hearing loss who have children with a hearing loss.


So, if your child is having trouble learning to use words to communicate or their speech is hard to understand it is important to seek help from the right health professionals.  You need to find a qualified, passionate Speech Pathologist who will be able to assess your child’s strength and areas for improvement.  And if your child does have a delay in their talking or pronunciation they should be recommending a hearing test. If they don’t, find another Speech Pathologist.

Found this article useful?  Click the link below to help us spread the word about how important children’s hearing is for their development.

Three of the biggest mistakes parents make with their late talkers and how to avoid them

Do you ever just wish your child would talk more?  Then this is an important article that could make the world of difference to you.


As a parent you have an enormous influence on your child’s talking in those critical first 5 years.  You need to be aware of the mistakes you can make that can reduce your child’s talking skills.


Let’s start by looking at how many words your child should be saying…


Age Number of words used
12 months 2-6
18 months 20-100
2 years 200-300
3 years 900+
4 years 1500+
5 years 2500+


That is some massive growth happening in a very short amount of time!  If your child doesn’t hear the right amount and type of talking during these critical early years they can have trouble learning to talk, the gap between them and their peers can widen super quickly and you will spend more time in therapy trying to close that gap.

By learning to talk to your child in the right way with the right amount of words you can help them develop their talking skills at the right rate.  They will keep up with their peers and you can avoid expensive long term therapy.


“We hear so many parents being told to just ‘wait and see’ by people who are not qualified Speech Pathologists.  Do NOT wait and see.  There is a huge amount of evidence that shows getting help early leads to the best results and NO evidence that the ‘wait and see’ approach does.”


So, if you want your child to talk more then read on and find out three of the biggest mistakes you could be making when talking to your child.


Mistake #1 Asking lots of questions

This teaches your child a very limited range of words and does not teach your child the different ways we can use words. Asking ‘what’s this?’ when you know they know the answer is pointless! Watch the video below to find out what you should be doing instead.


Mistake #2 Saying “say”

We see this one all the time!  You may hear yourself come out with “say dog”. Prompting your child to “say” something can often have the opposite effect and their lips will shut tight.  Instead, model the word or sentence you want them to try to say and wait while looking expectantly at them.

Mistake #3 Talking too much

You may find yourself talking constantly or using long sentences thinking ‘the more the better’. But actually this doesn’t work.  They’ll put getting a word in or imitating you in the too hard basket.  So, try saying a short sentence that is 1 or 2 words longer than what your child uses and leave silences so your child can say something if they wish (count to 10 in your head before talking again).



If you want to know more about how we can help get your child talking send us an email info@jennih.sg-host.com and one of our friendly staff will be in touch.


pencils in pencil case

Our top tips to make your child’s transition to school smooth

So your child is starting school. It’s a time filled with mixed emotions not only for you but for them as well.  In this article we’ll share our top tips for making the transition to school as smooth as possible.

“Starting school can be an overwhelming time for both children and parents.  It’s a massive life change that needs preparation and ongoing attention and effort to make sure it goes smoothly for everyone”

Without preparation and putting the right strategies in place your child can easily become overwhelmed by the experience of starting school.  This overwhelm is often expressed through behaviour.  Your child may become upset and cry frequently, they may get angry and act out or they withdraw into themselves.  Needless to say you want to avoid your child becoming overwhelmed.

When you prepare well and put strategies in place that work you can do just that.  Your child will feel more confident, have less emotional outbursts (still expect some though!) and the transition will be much smoother for both them and you.

So, read on to find out how you can help not only your child but yourself get through the transition with minimal overwhelm and upset.

#1 Stick to a routine

Routines are super important.  When children have consistency in their life and know what to expect they will be less anxious.  And when they’re less anxious they’re more calm and confident.  Set up a morning, afternoonboy sleeping and evening routine for every day of the week and stick to it. A visual schedule is a great way for school starters to be remember their routine.  Get your child involved by having them check off the steps in their schedule as they go through each of them.  You can find out more about visual schedules here https://teachingmama.org/visual-schedule-for-toddlers/.  Routines can also help you get out the door on time without the stress and hustle!  And lastly, we can’t emphasise enough the importance of a consistent bedtime that allows your child to get enough sleep.

#2 Give them downtime

There are so many before and after school activities on offer these days.  It can seem like booking your child into a bunch of these would be good.  You may have a case of FOMO for your child however you need to avoid overscheduling them.  School is incredibly tiring when they’re just starting out on their schooling journey and all those extra activities adds to the drain.  If they’re tired they’ll have trouble maintaining their attention and learning new things at school.  What’s more important is to book some down time into their calendar every day.  They will need time to relax and play quietly and recharge their battery ready for the next day.

#3 Talk to them about school

Start conversations about school right from the start.  Avoid general questions like “how was your day?” or “how are you?” and replace these with specific questions about their day such as “who did you play with at recess?” or “what was the favourite thing in your lunchbox today?”.  Also, talk about how they’re feeling with questions like “how did you feel when…?”.  They may not be able to describe this to you just yet so teach them how by telling them about your feelings in different situations.  And if they do get upset, act out or withdraw, talk to them about it after you’ve helped them calm down and reconnect with you.

#4 Arrange a play date or two

boys swimmingThis can be a fantastic way to foster friendships and make your child feel more comfortable at school.  You can always ask their teacher who they seem to be getting along with if you’re not sure.  Just check how the school wants you to communicate with the classroom teacher beforehand.  Play dates are also a nice way for you to connect with other parents at school.  No doubt you’ll need someone to remind you about an excursion permission slip or listen to you talk through your guilt at forgetting about sports uniform day at some stage in your child’s schooling journey!


Put these tips in place and you’ll find your child’s transition to school will be so much smoother and you’ll feel calmer.  Found this article useful?  Click the button below to share it with your friends.

Toy Central- Slug in a Jug

No doubt you’ve heard the message “play with your child” but what they don’t tell you is what games are good to play and how to play them.  Did you know it’s these two things – the what and how - that makes the difference to your child’s development?

So why take the time to play with your child? Well research shows us play allows children to use their creativity as they develop their imagination, dexterity, and physical, cognitive, and social and emotional skills.  Phew! That’s a lot of areas play can influence. Play is also so important for healthy brain development. Most of all play is fun and a simple joy that children love and by playing with your child,  you are giving them time when they feel special.

To help you out we’re going to answer the what and how for playing with your child by telling you about a game we like to use in clinic and sharing our top three tips on how to play the game to encourage your child’s listening, talking and thinking skills.



Slug in a Jug by Orchard Toys

What’s it about?

Slug in a Jug is a colourful and fun game for matching pictures of things that rhyme. Players take turns to choose which pictures rhyme. Better yet, Slug in a Jug has made teaching rhymes a lot easier by highlighting the sounds at the end of the words. In this way, children are able to match the letters as well as the sounds when learning about rhymes.

Rhyme awareness is a phonological awareness skill. Phonological awareness refers to the ability to recognise patterns of letter sounds (such as rhyme and alliteration), know how many syllables and sounds there are within words, and being able to recognise how these sounds can be changed or manipulated. Phonological awareness is strongly linked to our children’s ability to read and spell during their school years.



Our top 3 tips

  1. Children in preschool or kindergarten are encouraged to increase their awareness of rhyme. One way to do this is to choose three pictures: two that rhyme, and one that does not. Then ask your child which two rhyme. For example, “I have a king. Which one rhymes with king?Ring or cup?”
  2. For older kids, you can take matching pairs of rhyming words and sort them into a game of Have all cards faced down. Take turns flipping over two cards, and if they rhyme, you get to keep them. If not, you must put them back. This way, both you and your child get a mental workout with your memory skills whilst targeting your child’s ability to recognise rhyme.
  3. Get your child to come up with another word that rhymes that is not on any of the Slug in a Jug It can be a real or made up word! This way, children can use their imagination and demonstrate how well they understand the concept of rhyme.



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Do people have trouble understanding what your child says?

If people have difficulty understanding what your child says to them then this article is for you. You probably find yourself asking a bunch of questions about their pronunciation (aka speech).  Is it ok for their age?  Should they be able to say that sound? I can understand them so why can’t others? When do I need to get help? These are all really important questions so keep reading to find out the answers.

Whilst every child develops differently there are some key milestones when it comes to your child’s speech development. If your child doesn’t meet these milestones you or other less familiar people can be find it difficult to understand them.  This can cause your child to become frustrated, they may become withdrawn and their confidence can drop.


Research has found that persistent speech sound disorders, in other words those that are present at school entry and beyond, can negatively impact on a child’s literacy development.


It’s clear that early intervention is the key to success when it comes to speech. But the question is when should you seek help from a Speech Pathologist?  Family and friends may tell you not to worry explaining how their child “caught up” or “grew out of it”. GPs may tell you to wait because your child is too young.  These people mean well by their advice however they’re not qualified Speech Pathologists and don’t actually know whether or not you should be seeking help for your child.  Waiting can be incredibly detrimental to your child. Getting help at the right time will improve your child’s speech, make them easier to understand, build their confidence and prevent them from going on to have literacy difficulties due to ongoing speech difficulties.


So, here are the two main ways for you to work it if your child may need help.

  1. Intelligibility

Although it sounds related, intelligibility has nothing to do with your child’s intelligence. Intelligibility is a general measure of well people can understand your child when they’re talking.  Here’s what to expect...












  1. Speech sounds

Your child should develop certain speech sounds by a certain age.  This is what increases their intelligibility over time. As your child gets older their speech should become more accurate.  Here are the different sounds and when you should expect to hear your child using them when talking











If you’re worried about your child’s speech, trust your gut and reach out to a qualified paediatric Speech Pathologist (one who works solely with children). Our Speech Pathologists see children who have speech difficulties every day.  We can implement treatment to improve your child’s speech so they can be understood by everyone, reduce their frustration and build their confidence and prevent literacy difficulties due to ongoing speech difficulties.  Click here to send us an email or call us on 9653 9955.


Toy Central- Shopping List

No doubt you’ve heard the message “play with your child” but what they don’t tell you is what games are good to play and how to play them.  Did you know it’s these two things – the what and how - that makes the difference to your child’s development?

So why take the time to play with your child? Well research shows us play allows children to use their creativity as they develop their imagination, dexterity, and physical, cognitive, and social and emotional skills.  Phew! That’s a lot of areas play can influence. Play is also so important for healthy brain development. Most of all play is fun and a simple joy that children love and by playing with your child,  you are giving them time when they feel special.

To help you out we’re going to answer the what and how for playing with your child by telling you about a game we like to use in clinic and sharing our top three tips on how to play the game to encourage your child’s listening, talking and thinking skills.



SHOPPING LIST by Orchard Toys

What’s it about?

The Shopping List lotto game is a colourful and simple vocabulary game which holds children's attention! Players take it in turns to turn over cards showing everyday items, from tomatoes to washing powder to pizza. If they match the pictures on their shopping list, they are encouraged to put them in their trolley. The winner is the first player to collect all the items on their list and fill their trolley or basket

It is good for children ages 3-7.

Our top 3 tips

  1. With younger children place the pictures face down and take turns to choose one, then see whose shopping trolley it should go in and help each other fill the trolleys. This is nice for encouraging social skills such as sharing, turn-taking and helping others.
  2. With older children it can be fun to take turns to be the shopkeeper and encourage questioning and requesting skills. E.g. in response to ‘Hello what do you need today?’ – ‘I need tomatoes please’.
  3. Talking about the items, you can give additional information. This helps extend your child’s vocabulary and concept knowledge e.g. I’ve got carrots…do you have any vegetables in your trolley? My carrots are orange? Can you tell me something about the things in your trolley? This is fantastic for encouraging categorising and describing skills.


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