Listening, Understanding, Talking and Interacting

Learning to listen, understand and interact is important for children and young people. Children and young people develop these skills in their own time.

Find out more about all of the skills that come together to help children develop speech, language and communication- The Building Blocks of Language!

Building Blocks

Most children develop speech, language and communication in a predictable sequence with each new skill building on skills already learned. Although we can expect these skills to develop within a given age range, children will progress through these stages at their own pace (have a look at the Child Development Timeline for more information). When thinking about your child’s level of communication, it is important to think about the basic skills that are needed to support them to develop. For example, if a child has only recently started using single words, they have a long way to go before their speech sounds will be fully developed no matter what age they are.


Some children with long term speech language and communication impairments may not develop skills at all stages.


Click for more information to find out more about why each building block is important for successful communication.

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Speech Sound Development



Screen Time

Tablets, mobile ‘phones, TVs, laptops and computer games consoles are everywhere and most of us couldn’t do without them!


We all know that allowing your child screen time sometimes feels like the only way parents can get things done. Giving your child access to a tablet or phone is often a surefire way of keeping them happy and busy whilst you get on with other things.


But did you know that too much Screen Time could have an impact on your child’s language development?


Click on the leaflet for more information.



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Dummies and Speech Development

Many parents use a dummy to help soothe their child. This is understandable as most babies have a strong sucking reflex and often a dummy can help settle a child. Dummies can be an invaluable support to parents and babies in the early months of development.


However, did you know that prolonged use of a dummy can cause potential risks to the development of speech and language?


Click on the leaflet for more information.

Renfrewshire Therapy Advice and Support Line

If you are a parent or carer living in Renfrewshire and have queries or concerns regarding your child's communication or movement, contact the Renfrewshire Therapy Advice and Support Helpline. The joint helpline is ran by Speech and Language Therapists and Physiotherapists.

Helpline Opening Hours

Speech and Language Therapy - Monday and Friday 11am-1pm

Physiotherapy - Tuesday 11am-1pm

Telephone Number: 0141 314 4624

Stammering Advice Line

Top Tips

Attention and Listening



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Try these simple tips to get the most out of talking times with your pre-school child!

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5 Tips for Helping Your Toddler with Talking

Tip 1 Follow Your Child's Interest

Playing is an important language learning activity. When you join your child’s play you can help to make this an even more effective way to improve attention, learn words and develop interaction skills. To get the most out of play, it helps to follow your child’s interest rather than direct the activities yourself.

Click here to access the Follow Your Child's Interest leaflet.

Tip 2 Wait and Respond

Life is busy for everyone especially when you have toddlers or young children at home. Yet, waiting is a powerful way that we can help youngsters develop language skills. When children have few words, it’s tempting for adults to do all the talking. If your child is naturally passive or not so confident this may mean that they don’t get a chance to try out new skills and to interact fully in conversations.

Click here to access the Wait and Respond leaflet.

Tip 3 Copy and Add More

Copying will motivate and encourage your child to interact with you. Copying also shows your child that you are interested in what they are doing, and might encourage them to imitate you back.

Click here to access the Copy and Add More leaflet.

Tip 4 Repeat

We all know how important it is to practice when learning a new skill. Think about learning to drive or trying a new sport. Learning to communicate is the most complex skill that any of us learn. Children who are learning to talk need lots of help from you and lots of opportunities to practice.

Click here to access the Repeat leaflet.

Tip 5 Describe Instead of Asking

When your child is passive or is a less confident communicator, it is tempting to ask questions to get conversation going. This approach often has the opposite effect and can stop interaction altogether if children feel under pressure, don’t understand or don’t have the words to respond.

Click here to access the Describe Instead of Asking leaflet.

Helping Your Child with Unclear Speech

Top tips on helping your child with unclear speech.

Helping a Pre-School Child Whose Speech is Non-Fluent

Some children, when they are learning to talk, can stumble over words/pause and start again etc. This can sound like a stammer. Between the ages of two and five years it is normal for a child to repeat words and phrases or hesitate while they are thinking of what they are trying to say. Many children will become more fluent as they get older but others can continue to get stuck and find talking difficult.


It is important to seek advice and information on how to help as soon as you notice your child becoming non-fluent.

Stammering Information - The Young School Aged Child

Many young children speak dysfluently at times, especially when they are under some pressure to speak. There is no exact point at which normal dysfluency becomes stammering though there are features which enable us to decide between normal non-fluency and stammering.


Normal non-fluencies are usually relaxed repetitions, often of whole words either at the beginning of a phrase or when a child is thinking of how to finish a sentence.


There is a greater risk of stammering developing when the child often gets stuck on words, prolonging or repeating part of the words or putting excess effort into finishing them. It is also a concern when the child seems aware of and upset by their dysfluencies. However, one of the things that make it so difficult to say with certainty whether or not a child stutters is that there can be so much variation from day to day and in differing situations.

Stammering Information - The Older School Aged Child

By now the child who stammers may have been stammering for some time. Some children may stammer with obvious physical tension and some may have mild, infrequent non-fluencies such as repetitions and sound prolongations.


To speak fluently children need to: know lots of words, know how to put words together (grammar); think quickly of the “right word” or correct sentence to say what they mean; listen and understand what others say; learn which sounds we use in our language and how they are put together to form words. They also need to coordinate the movements for breathing and speaking. These skills are affected by how the child feels as well as by the demands placed on him. When the child feels: happy, confident, listened to, sure of the content etc.., then it is easier to speak well. When the child feels: upset, tired, unwell, over-excited, unimportant etc.., then speaking can be difficult. Depending on these factors breaks in fluency can be expected.


You are not the cause of your child’s stammering but you are the best people to help their talking get easier.

Children Who Are Learning Two or More Languages

A bilingual child is one who hears or speaks two or more languages (multi-lingual).


Many young people successfully learn more than one language in their pre-school years at home. Many children learn one language at home and then go on to learn English as an additional language when they start nursery or school.


Advice for parents of children who are exposed to more than one language.

Useful Websites for Information


  • This website seeks to raise awareness and create better services and provision for children and young people with speech and language difficulties.
  • It contains helpful information on speech, language and communication needs (SLCN).
  • There is also a helpline for parents: 0300 666 9410.



Ambitious about Autism

  • This is a national charity website which provides practical information and resources. It was designed for adults with autism, parents and professionals.
  • You can read other people’s stories and there’s an online community called ‘Talk about Autism’.



Autism Toolbox

  • This is a resource for Scottish schools which includes real life case studies and gives practical examples.
  • There is a guide to interventions and support for people on the autism spectrum.



Baby Buddy

  • This can be accessed through a computer or using an app
  • It guides you through your pregnancy journey and the first six months following your baby’s birth.
  • It is designed to help you look after your baby's mental and physical health, as well as your own, and give your baby the best start in life. It includes helpful advice, tips and videos including come focus on communication.



British Stammering Association

  • This website provides information, which is downloadable, for people who stammer, parents and professionals working with people who stammer.
  • The website aims to bring people who stammer together and there’s a link to their Facebook page and a list of upcoming events.
  • There is also a helpline available: 0808 802 0002.



Communication Trust

  • It’s a coalition of non-profit organisations aiming to support everyone working with children with speech, language and communication needs.
  • Has a separate resource sections for professionals and parents/carers.
  • Has a short speech, language and communication CPD online course.




  • This will provide you with an overview of Makaton and how this supports children with communication difficulties.
  • Makaton uses speech with signs and symbols to help people communicate. It can be used to develop communication, language and literacy skills.
  • You could also follow Makaton on social media for weekly sign videos.



National Autistic Society


  • Aims to provide individuals with autism and their families with help, support, and services they can access.
  • There is an online community and resources and advice for teachers.
  • The website provides sensory advice on topics such as eating and drinking.



Play Talk Read – Parent Club

  • The Read Talk Play campaign encourages parents to read, talk and play to their young children. It provides practical advice for parents to support their child’s learning and development.




  • This website provides information advice and resources on how you can support children who are selectively mute.



Talk To Your Baby

  • A campaign run by the National Literacy Trust which encourages parents and to talk more to children from birth to three.
  • Have a look at this website for a range of useful resources, including advice plus lots of songs and rhymes!



Talking Point

  • This website provides information for parents/ carers and practitioners to help children develop their speech, language and communication skills.
  • It has a progress checker to act as a guide and there are factsheets available for download.