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What are the early communication skills?

Updated: Feb 26, 2021

Babies communicate in various ways. They smile, make pleasure sounds, throw objects, bring objects to you, turn away, etc. Thus they start expressing themselves very early. But before children learn to start using words they need to develop their early communication skills.

These skills are: looking, joint attention, taking turns and listening. These skills support their speech, language and communication development.

The hierarchy through which a child develops speech and language is numbered below. The child cannot skip any of the levels below but might develop them simultaneously.

1. Looking and listening (Attention)

2. Play

3. Understanding/Reception

4. Talking/Expression

5. Pronunciation/Articulation

Attention and Listening

It is important that to learn the language children listen well. At early age children develop awareness of sounds and voice. They begin to discriminate auditorily. When a child achieves joint attention, he develops the tools to speak and to listen to others which form the basics of conversation. Some children find it hard to listen and concentrate at the level expected for their age. It has an effect on all areas of learning. If a child listens and attends, he/she will be able to process information given.


Children learn best through play because it is fun . You can help a child learn through play by providing the toys and opportunities, watching how he plays and showing him how to play in new ways. This will help him build new skills. There are several different types of play which a child will learn gradually as he develops like People Play, Sensory & Exploratory Play ,Pretend Play etc. Learning through play is vital for the development of a child’s communication skills. Play can improve social interaction skills such as eye contact, turn taking and copying sounds and actions. It can also help develop understanding, use of language and gesture, concentration and listening and imagination. Play can also help develop other new skills such as physical and movement skills, general learning and problem solving.

Understanding of Language

Some children struggle to understand spoken language at the level expected for their age. These children often have difficulty following instructions and learning new words and ideas. Children nearly always understand more words than they can say so it is important to build up their understanding of language. When a child hears you say certain words over time he’ll begin to understand what they mean. He’ll let you know he understands by looking, pointing, showing or following your simple directions. This is an important part of language development because your child needs to understand a word before he can use it to communicate.

Expressive Language

When a child learns about 50 single words, he begins putting them together.

Initially the child might try imitating words that you say or might say words by himself. Along with the words, child might use gestures, facial expressions, pointing, etc to communicate. Struggles with spoken language skills can present in a number of different ways including, difficulty putting words together to make a sentence, difficulty using verb tenses and plurals, limited vocabulary development and difficulty sequencing ideas to make a story.

Speech Sounds

Children can present with a range of different speech sound difficulties. Some children may not be able to use a specific sound or sounds in their speech; others struggle to co-ordinate the movements of their lips and tongue to accurately sequence sounds to make words. Children’s speech sound difficulties can have an impact on their ability to make themselves understood and developing reading and writing skills.

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