The ability to communicate is recognised as the most fundamental life skill for children. It directly impacts on their ability to learn, to develop friendships and on their future life chances. Babies are born ready to communicate – with language development influenced by both genetic factors and environmental experience. Parents, caregivers and those closest to the child have the most important role in supporting speech, language and communication development and are best placed to provide language rich environments for their children.
Early language development and communication skills are recognised as primary indicators of child wellbeing due to the link between language and other social, emotional and learning outcomes. Language contributes to a child’s ability to manage emotions and communicate feelings; to establish and maintain relationships; to think symbolically and to learn to read and write. Without support, children and young people with speech, language and communication needs (SLCN) are at risk of poor outcomes across the life course.