Understanding What is Being Said

Through the development of their play and their interest and awareness in the environment, children begin to understand the relationships between words and objects or actions. As such, their understanding of words and sentences develops.

Speech and language therapists offer support to children and young people from birth to 18 years where communication difficulties are impacting on their ability to fully participate in daily life.

As children develop they learn to think about and make sense of what people say to them. They must learn to understand the words that are spoken as well as the rules of grammar used.


How do I know if my child has difficulty understanding?

Some children may have difficulty developing their listening and understanding of what is being said. For example, your child may look confused or blank when you ask them a question.

Children having difficulty with their understanding show this in a variety of ways. Pre-school children may not do as they are asked, echo back what has been said and have poor attention.

School aged children may also just follow part of an instruction or give inappropriate answers. The young person can sometimes seem to be understanding what you are saying to them but is actually relying on routines, gestures and watching the responses of others.

Guidance and helpful information

Encouraging talking and listening skills from a young age is very important. You can build your child’s communication skills as you do everyday activities and play together.

A few simple ways to support a child’s understanding:

  • Make sure you have their attention first
  • Keep your language simple
  • Give them ‘thinking time’ (up to 10 seconds) when you ask a question
  • Make what you are saying more ‘visual’ (e.g. using gestures, signing and pictures)

If you think your child has difficulties with understanding what is being said please use the toolkits below and look at the web links to the right.


How we can help

We will provide support to your child to improve their difficulty with language using therapies and a range of proven strategies. We might work directly with your child or with you and your child together.

For children in school, we will work closely with teachers, providing a programme and advice to enable them to support your child’s difficulties in school. Research has shown that improvements in children’s language difficulties in school are improved when goals are embedded in the child’s everyday environment.

What happens next?

If you think your child has difficulties with speech, language or communication, please initially use the toolkits above and look at the web links to the right. These toolkits will give you ideas to support and encourage your child’s development.

If you continue to have concerns, please discuss these with your health visitor, early years practitioner, your child’s teacher or GP.