Reception Speech Sounds

What is it?

Speech sounds are the sounds we make, using our mouth, to form words.  To make sounds the brain needs an idea to communicate, then it send the idea to the mouth telling it which words to say and the sounds to make.  This includes signals to the muscles that control the tongue, lips and jaw.

What to expect?

In Reception, children continue to make some speech sound substitutions.  The following are still age-appropriate:

  • Words with two consonant together like ‘sp’ in ‘spider’ or ‘bl’ in ‘black’ can be reduced to one sound so “pider” or “back”.
  • Longer words with three or more syllables may be difficult to produce like ‘helicopter’.
  • Children should be able to identify simple rhyming words like ‘cat’ and ‘hat’.
  • Children are developing an awareness of syllables and can break words down like ‘flow _er’ or ‘ra_bbit’.
  • Please see the speech wheel for further information.

Information & advice

You can help by:

  • Accepting a child’s speech attempts as their best effort. Children are not lazy when it comes to speech sounds; it is just that they are not ready and/or able to use the correct ones.
  • Letting your child have the opportunity to mix and play with children of their own age. This way they will get to hear the speech of other children and will gain confidence.
  • Listening to what the child is saying rather than how he is saying it. Remember that all children make pronunciation errors when learning to talk.
  • Modelling back the correct word if a child uses the wrong sounds.
  • Not asking your child to repeat the words they are finding hard to say.
  • Reflecting back any of the words you have understood to show the child that you have been listening.
  • Modelling new or tricky words lots of times for the child so they can hear the sounds used.
  • Acknowledging when you cannot understand and encouraging the child to tell you again, maybe in a different way, or show you if possible. Never pretend you have understood.
  • Clapping out the syllables in words to allow the child to hear all parts of the word. E.g. te-le-phone. You could try clapping out your names, favourite foods or favourite TV or book characters.

Watch our speech sounds videos here.