Speech & language cupcake!
Here’s a metaphor that’s used a lot by us in speech and language therapy…. A yummy cupcake! This cupcake shows us the steps which make up language development. A child needs all these in place to become a successful communicator.
Once all of these stages are in place a child has all the necessary skills for effective communication. Speech is the icing on the cake. It's the natural medium for expressing language… but once a child has mastered these skills there's another huge language development step that they have to take. They have to put the cherry on the top! What is that cherry?… that next huge language development step?
Literacy. Speech is the natural medium that we use to express the language that we have. Writing is an invented medium through which to express that language. In order to be able to read a child has to be able to make the connection between language and a series of squiggles and marks on a page, and to write they have to form their ideas and then represent them as marks on a page. It’s just another way to represent language.
If a child is having difficulty with language in the natural verbal medium they will not be equipped to take that next huge step in their language development into literacy.
More importantly if their speech and language skills are not GOOD ENOUGH, they will not achieve GOOD ENOUGH levels of literacy. This is something we stress time and time again to schools, teachers, teaching assistants, anyone working with children who are learning to read and write. Without these key skills in place, a child is going to struggle with literacy learning, highlighting the importance of making sure children have all the ingredients in their cupcake early on.