Some kids chatter up a storm before they're two. Others take a little longer. But if your child is struggling with those early conversations, it could lead to reading problems later on. 

"Oral skills are the foundation for reading and writing because reading and writing are the written form of what you’re speaking orally," says Margit Pukonen, Director of the speech program at the Speech and Stuttering Institute in Toronto. "The research can’t predict 100% who is going to have reading difficulties but often children with speech difficulties are at risk for reading difficulties."

The first thing you can do is look for signs of a problem. Check out our checklist to learn how your child should be communicating and who to contact in case of problems.

If you are worried or you want to help develop your child's future reading skills then it's best to start with their language. Here are some things you can do at home:

  • Read to your children every day. 
  • Break it down. Sometimes kids can't make out individual words because we're talking too fast. Try clapping out the different words in a sentence.
  • Count syllables. Kids need to recognize that there are different sounds in a word. Try clapping out each syllable in words.
  • It's rhyme time. Rhymes are a really good way to teach kids how to manipulate sounds. Sing rhyming songs together or look for books with rhymes in them.
  • Emphasize the first letter in a word. Try, "Look, there's something that starts with the sound 'mm.' It's a mm-an."
  • Make sure you are doing these things in a natural way. Flash cards and video games are really not necessary.

"Some children are late talkers but I think it’s important to err on the side of caution," urges Pukonen. "The research is showing the earlier you intervene the greater the chance for children to start catching up."

So brush up on your nursery rhymes, roll up your sleeves and get talking!