The communication pyramid is a favourite of speech and language therapists as a simple way to show how communication develops.

The skills at the bottom come first and need to be in place in order to support the development of the skills higher up.

So….the foundation for ALL communication skills is Attention and Listening!  The ability to focus, maintain concentration and shift from one object or topic to another develops from birth and improves with age.

Supporting these skills will provide children with the very best environment to develop their understanding and use of language – it will help them to climb the pyramid!

Some tips to help with this basic skill:

  • Say your child’s name before you say anything else to them! Does it matter how you do this? Yes! Get close, about an arm’s length away, facing them and down at their level. We can’t expect small children to tune in when we talk to them from across the room.
  • Try to reduce background noises and distractions – turn off the TV and music.
  • Praise your child specifically if they are listening well : “Good Listening Sophie!”
  • Keep your language simple – if your child can’t understand your long sentences they will lose attention quickly.
  • Using gestures, pictures or real objects while you are talking can help a child to focus. Children with language delays often find it easier to focus on visual things.


Some fun games to help attention include action songs and finger rhymes, games like “Simon Says” or hiding a noise-making object around the room for them to find!