Some children have problems with understanding, also called receptive language. They may have trouble:

  • Following along and remembering conversations with others
  • Following directions at home or at school
  • Answering questions appropriately (who, what, where, when, why)
  • Understanding stories and recalling details
  • They may appear forgetful or inattentive as they have difficulty processing and remembering what they hear.

Some children have problems talking, also called expressive language. They may have trouble:

  • Using age appropriate grammar and vocabulary when speaking
  • Asking questions using the correct grammar
  • Remembering the names of objects and places
  • Learning songs and rhymes they have heard many times
  • Using correct pronouns (her/she, him/he) and prepositions (in, under, under, behind, over etc.)
  • Knowing how to start a conversation and keep it going

Many children have problems with both understanding and talking.


Children who experience delays in their speech and language development, are at higher risk for experiencing delays in their early literacy development such as:

  • Learning letter, number, and color names
  • Remembering the sounds each letter makes
  • Remembering how to draw letters and numbers they have practiced many times
  • Remembering the words to familiar songs and finger plays
  • Learning to rhyme

A child’s oral language abilities are one of the best predictors of how readily they will acquire literacy.

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