‘Comfortable’ is not always best for us….or our children!

Most of us like operating within our comfort zone.

The comfort zone is a cozy space where we feel safe and familiar. While it provides a sense of security, staying within its confines is not necessarily good for us.  In the short term it can give us that dopamine hit that feels lovely but it doesn’t always serve our long term goals well to always choose what is comfortable.

This is true in many areas of our life.

Choosing the most comfortable, cushioned running shoes doesn’t tend to result in strong feet that can walk along a beach easily when you are older.

Choosing to lie on the lounge to watch TV of an evening is rarely as good for us as going to bed that little bit earlier.

We are told that choosing to sit rather than stand doesn’t support our long term health and posture.

Choosing the less healthy food options can feel great in the moment but not so great if we do this for a lifetime.

Both children and adults can fall into this trap; fearing change and avoiding new experiences.  No one likes to be uncomfortable so we naturally tend to avoid putting ourselves into these situations.

As parents, we rarely want to see our children experience tricky emotions when out of their comfort zone as we ourselves know how challenging this can be.  It is essential however that we recognise that true growth and learning occurs when we stretch ourselves beyond the boundaries of our comfort zone.  This is true not only for us but for our children.

For children who need to learn new speech and language skills, the capacity to move beyond their comfort zone is often required.  When working with younger children, we can often weave facilitation of their development into play and everyday routines.  Children may not even realise that this is ‘intervention’ when adults do this well.  However, as children get that little bit older and move into their preschool years, speech therapy often requires repetitive practice and speech drills in order to change existing speech patterns and encourage new skills to develop.

Learning new speech sounds can be difficult for children as can learning new concepts at school or learning to read and spell.  It can feel uncomfortable when learning new skills.  This inevitably requires us to support our children to stretch beyond their comfort zones.

We all react differently when we feel uncomfortable.  If children can be supported to process rather than avoid these emotions then we are much more likely to see steady progress towards achieving therapy goals as well as the development of other important skills that will set your child up for a lifetime.

The Power of Taking Risks

Trying to do something that feels difficult involves taking a risk.  A risk that many children find difficult to take is that of risking failure but needing to try multiple times before achieving a goal helps children to learn resilience and problem-solving abilities  Developing the confidence to face challenges head-on is a skill that will certainly […]


Speech Ready: The skills our preschoolers need to transition to school

It’s that time of year again…when our preschool aged children will soon attend Kindergarten orientation programmes and transition to school!

Is your child, a child you care for, or a child you educate ready for school?

Do you have concerns or confusion about what skills are important to nurture in order to give your child the best chance of a successful start to his or her schooling?

Look no further. When it comes to speech, language and communication skills we have you covered.

As parents and early childhood educators, we play a crucial role in preparing our children for the exciting transition to kindergarten.  Among the many essential skills required for this milestone, strong speech, language, and communication abilities are particularly vital. In this blog, we will explore eight key areas that will help children thrive as they embark on their kindergarten journey.

Here are our handpicked top Kindy Readiness Skills and ways that you can support your child, a child you care for or a child you educate develop them over the next 6 months!

Get your free School Readiness speech and language checklist here

Learn2Communicate School Ready!

Initiate and Sustain Conversations

Encouraging children to start conversations with others and to keep these going back and forth over multiple turns  fosters social interactions and builds their confidence in expressing their thoughts and ideas. Be sure to give your child many opportunities to engage in meaningful conversations with you with opportunities for active listening and turn taking.

Answer a Range of Open Ended WH – Questions

Incorporate open ended WH-Questions into your daily conversations, asking your child about their day, their favourite activities, or their interests.  Questions starting with ‘what’ ‘where’ ‘who’ ‘when’ ‘where’ ‘how ‘ and ‘why’ will help conversations to keep flowing with your child and will encourage your child’s understanding and recall to develop.

You can also develop these skills when sharing story books together.  It is important to mix these questions naturally amongst other types of language such as comments and statements so that your child doesn’t feel pressured or ‘tested’.  Keep it fun and playful.

These skills are important for children when starting school to respond to questions from their teacher and during activities such as ‘show and tell’ when other children may ask questions or seek clarification about your child’s news item.

Understand and Follow Spoken Instructions

This is a big one!  One of the most important and obvious differences between home, early childhood settings and a Kindergarten classroom is that your child will now be in a large group of children with 1 teachers.  Your child will need to far more listening than ever before. He or she will need to tune in, listen to, understand and follow many spoken instructions throughout the day.  You can help you child by providing your child will opportunities at home to follow simple instructions.  They can gradually increase in complexity as your child becomes more adept.  Break the instructions down into smaller steps to make them more manageable and use visual cues such as gestures […]


Kicking Goals in Early Childhood Communication

So now you have profiled a child’s communicative strengths and challenges

and have some ideas brewing for where you would like to start.

Things can get pretty overwhelming at this stage so here a few helpful suggestions for communication goals that can be targeted in early childhood settings during natural routines and play:

“What will make the most difference to this child’s life?”

When looking at your profile of communication strengths and challenges, this is a vital question to ask as you sit back and reflect upon where to start.

SPEECH:  What speech sound difficulties are those that are most impacting intelligibility and clarity for this child?  These might be good sounds to start working on if developmentally appropriate.  https://learn2communicate.com.au/product/speech-development-a-toolkit-for-early-childhood-educators/

RECEPTIVE LANGUAGE:  At what times of the day does the child’s difficulties with understanding language most impact his or her capacity to engage with activities, routines and play?  Perhaps it is when needing to follow instructions during transition times.  Maybe it is when required to listen and respond during story time on the mat or when responding to questions for early morning circle time.

EXPRESSIVE LANGUAGE:  Are there situations where communication breaks down because a child is unable to effectively convey his or her ideas using words or short sentences?  Does this ever result in frustration for you or for the child?

SOCIAL COMMUNICATION:  Have you noticed particular patterns of challenge related to the child’s difficulties in understanding and using the many unwritten rules of social interaction and play.  Perhaps the child is struggling to understand the concept of turns or does not seem to comprehend when his or her actions have upset a playmate.  Maybe the child’s ability to play has stalled and the child is yet to play with a variety of items in a reciprocal and imaginative manner.  This may be restricting their ability to positive engage with peers.

Take Small Steps to Achieve Communication Goals

As I have often said…my advice is that less is more.  Choose no more than 3 small things to start working towards the child achieving in your early childhood setting.  Choose goals that are important, that have meaning to the child, are developmentally appropriate and that will make a significant difference for your child.

Keep goals small, really specific and achievable to target in natural early childhood routines.

Achieving these small goals helps the child to inch towards achieving those big, longer term goals whilst being motivated by small wins and success along the way.

Some examples might include:

XX will understand and follow 2 step instructions during lunch time e.g. “Get you lunch box…..and get your hat”.

Remember to also note the supports that you are going to infuse into these goals to set the child up for success.  In the above example it might be that you will call the child’s name first, get down to their level, place yourself face to face with the child when giving the instruction and slow your speech down.  You might also include gestures such as pointing and pictures of the items that the […]


Debunking some myths when parents ask questions…..

Let’s debunk some common myths about children and speech/language/communication development.

As an early childhood educator, you will need to be ready to accept a range of reactions from parents and caregivers when raising your concerns about a child’s development.

Every response from a parent or carer is valid and can be accepted without judgement.  These conversations definitely flow more smoothly, however, if educators are equipped with knowledge and helpful information for families.

Unfortunately, there is much available at our fingertips that is not accurate.  Let’s dispel a few of these common myths now.

My child has a speech delay.  Does this mean that something is ‘wrong’ with my child or that my child is not intelligent?

There is nothing ‘wrong’ with a child who has speech, language or communication difficulties and a delay or disorder in communication abilities does not necessarily also correlate with a child’s cognitive abilities.  We see many very bright children who just happen to have specific areas of their development requiring support.  If your child has a delay in the development of his or her speech, language or communication skills….we now know that early intervention is really key and that we can help them to make great progress if we start early.

I was late to talk.  Won’t my child just ‘grow out of it’?

Maybe.  Maybe not.  We cannot know the answer to this question.

What we do know though, is that communication skills underpin academic, social skills and are crucial to one’s quality of life.

The earlier we offer support to a child who is struggling to develop these skills, the better the outcome we can expect.

Some children will ‘catch up’ on their own but we don’t know who will and who will not.  Children who will not just ‘grow out of it’ usually respond really well to the support that a speech pathologist can provided.

Have I caused my child’s speech delay?

Speech delays are not caused by poor parenting, a parent working long hours, birth order, parents not talking enough to their children or the provision of screen time.  Instead, delays in speech, language and communication are caused by a range of factors including hearing loss and genetics.  Parents blaming themselves for their child’s delays is simply not helpful in any way.  Working towards acceptance of a child’s difficulties and developing a plan to support a child is far more positive and will result in better outcomes for all.

Isn’t my child too young to be concerned about this?

No!  The sooner we identify children who are lagging in their development of these vital skills, the better our chance of supporting them to make terrific progress.  Significant gaps are apparent in the vocabulary knowledge and use by the age of only 3 years of age.  These discrepancies tend to persist and even widen across a lifetime with implications across academic, social and emotional areas.  Early Identification and Intervention is so important.

Prepare for your conversation with families and answer their questions honestly, accurately and confidently.

If you […]


So you have some concerns about a child you educate…..

The first step is always to start documenting your observations

As an early childhood educator, you cannot accurately identify and support children who have speech, language and communication difficulties without first collecting and documenting your observations.

Before you approach parents, it is essential to document your observations about the child’s communication skills.  To make it a little easier, we have a free comprehensive guide for early childhood educators that you can download from our website https://learn2communicate.com.au/product/identifying-speech-and-language-difficulties-a-practical-guide-for-early-childhood-educators/ or a quick cheat sheet if you want to opt for something a little quick simpler https://mailchi.mp/a872b26cca98/speech-and-language-milestones-0-5-years .

Schedule a meeting with the parents

Conversations with a parent about concerns you may have regarding their child should not be attempted during drop off / pick up times.  Instead, schedule a meeting with the parent.  This will allow for a more personal, detailed conversation and provides parents with notice so that they can prepare themselves emotionally.

It also goes without saying that such meetings and conversations can only be scheduled when there is a high element of trust and positive rapport between the early childhood educator and the parent.  The importance of pouring your energy into establishing these positive relationships with families cannot be understated!

Use Positive, Encouraging Language in the meeting but be HONEST

Framing your observations in more positive language whilst still clearly communicating your concerns is important.

Instead of “I am worried about your child’s development”  try “I have some observations that I would like to share with you”.

You can then share your observations and provide specific examples to help parents understand why you have concerns about their child’s development.  Encourage parents to also share their observations with you.

Listen more than you Speak

Make some open ended comments and questions to encourage parents to share information with you about their child.

Actively listen to this information.  Remember that the parent is always the expert when it comes to their child.  They can always provide us with more information to help us understand their child’s strengths and challenges as well as other factors which may be impacting their child’s development.

Be Empathetic

Remember that discussing a child’s development can be sensitive topic for many parents.  Try to understand and accept a variety of responses from parents and shown them that you are there to support them and their child.

Offer to Help

It is one thing to raise a parent’s awareness about a child’s developmental challenges.  It is another to have the parent understand, acknowledge and come to terms with this information.

Once these two first steps have been worked through, parents can feel very overwhelmed about where to start in order to help their child.  It is important for early childhood educators to have some helpful resources, contacts, service provider options and information at their fingertips so that parents feel supported in addressing their child’s developmental concerns.

Once again, our free resources (books, home programmes) can be of assistance https://learn2communicate.com.au/ as can our social media pages https://www.facebook.com/Learn2Communicate and https://www.instagram.com/learn2communicate/ .

Keep an eye out for next week’s Chatterbox […]


A Lazy Talker?

We hear this so often in our work as Speech Pathologists; a comment often made or question posed by parents or educators about children who have speech, language and communication challenges.

Yes, children may have delays in their development.

They may have specific challenges in areas of communication.  They may have speech sound disorders which result in them being difficult to understand.  They may not talk much at all.

None of these scenarios suggest to me, however,  that a child is choosing to be lazy.  In fact, quite the opposite.

Using clear, spoken language is the most efficient and effective way for us to communicate with others.

Not using clear, easily understood spoken  language creates far more ‘work’ for a child than does using words.  Think about it for a moment as we put ourselves in a little child’s shoes.  If you were limited to pointing and grunting / whining to communicate your needs to another human….imagine the scope for misinterpretation and the limited range of methods you would have access to in order to then clarify your message.  Incredibly frustrating, right!?  If you were learning how to say a new sound and could finally say that new sound correctly in words AFTER your parent WHEN your parent was using lots of gesture and support (phew, that took lots of work) …it would take lots and lots of practice before you could use that new sound in words and sentences during everyday conversation when that adult support was not readily available.  Imagine for a moment that I requested you to say all of the words you currently use that start with a /b/ sound and to change these to starting with a /f/ sound.  I want you to do this at all times, with all people in all situations.  You can say a /f/ sound right?  Okay, so what is the problem?  Are you being lazy?  Hmmmmm…..

In each of these scenarios,

laziness is simply just not a factor when we really boil it down and look at what is going on for a child.  Learning to use speech and language happens gradually and when children experience hiccups in their development for whatever the reason may be (yes, a topic for another blogpost), we do them a disservice if we describe those challenges as arising due to a child being lazy.  Would we describe a child learning a new skill such as how to ride a tricycle but stumbling along the way  to achieving this goal as ‘lazy’?  No, we would see this for what it is…a child learning a new complex motor skills and needing lots and lots of practice until this skill becomes automatic.  Learning to talk and to communicate takes practice. Young children are still learning.

Yes, all of us can be lazy from time to time and display this in our mood and behaviour but rarely is it a cause or even a factor when working with children who have genuine challenges with speech, language and/or communication skills.

So, what can […]

My child has started to Stutter

Stuttering is a relatively common communication disorder that affects 1-2% of the population and impacts the fluency or flow of speech.

Children who stutter have difficulty saying what they want to using smooth or fluent speech.  Unfortunately the onset of stuttering in young children can cause much worry and even alarm for parents.  Luckily we have several effective treatments at our fingertips to help….but first, some answers to some frequently asked questions.

What Causes Stuttering

Contrary to popular belief, stuttering is not caused by anxiety, exposure to trauma / stress or parenting.  Instead, it is now known that stuttering is a problem with neural processing involving the brain activity that supports speech production.  We also know that stuttering tends to run in families and is more common in males than females.

Can Stuttering Appear Overnight?

Stuttering can appear quite suddenly or can develop gradually over several weeks or months. Stuttering is usually first noticed in the toddler to preschool years when children are learning to combine words into phrases and short sentences.  Stuttering can range in severity to very mild to quite severe.

Will my child grow out of it?

Some children will naturally grow out of their stuttering whilst some will require therapy.  As it is not possible to predict which children will recover naturally, speech pathologists recommend that children who begin to stutter should receive therapy.

What Does Stuttering Sound Like?


These are the most common type of stuttering behaviour. Repetitions often occur at the beginning of an utterance and may be the first sound, syllable or entire word or phrase.

  • e.g. “C C C Can I have the car?”
  • e.g. “Can Can Can I have the car?”
  • e.g. “Choc Choc Chocolate is yummy”
  • e.g. “I want I want I want a biscuit”


Children who use this stuttering behaviour sound like they are ‘stuck’ on words. The word does not sound bumpy as with repetitions but more like a struggle to get the words out. Blocking is often accompanied by facial grimaces or other body movements.


Words may sound stretched
• e.g. “IIIIIIIIIIIIIII want one”

How is stuttering treated?

Luckily we have plenty of effective interventions available for treating stuttering.  Those who receive early intervention have really good chances of becoming stutter-free particularly if that treatment is received in the preschool years when treatments are simpler and more effective.

Some recent research has shown that even children as young as 7 who stutter are at risk of feeling anxious about talking in social situations so this is another reason why we recommend treating stuttering when a child is under the age of 6 years wherever possible.

There are currently two evidence-based approaches that we use to treat preschooler who stutter at Learn2Communicate. These are the Lidcombe Programme and the Westmead Program.  Both are effective and many can be delivered either face to face or using telehealth.

Please contact a Speech Pathologist if you have any concerns that your child may be stuttering.  Contact us if you would […]



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