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Speech therapist working on speech sounds with elementary student

Role of Speech-Language Pathologists in Reading Achievement

Learn how school SLPs support classroom teachers and families in helping children with speech sounds, spoken language, social communication, and more.

Literacy is an essential prerequisite to students’ academic achievement, social wellbeing, and lifetime opportunities. Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) have the specialized knowledge and experience that’s needed to identify communication disorders and provide the help that children need to build their language literacy skills. 

School SLPs help children with speech sounds, spoken language and literacy, social communication, cognitive communication, and assistive technology. SLPs play an important role in both special education and regular education settings. Here are some of the key things SLP’s do:

  • Provide classroom-based services
  • Co-teach with classroom teachers and reading specialists
  • Work with students who are at risk for reading difficulties and with children who are experiencing academic failure
  • Provide training to parents, teachers, and administrators to help support students’ academic and social success

Modeling read-alouds for parents

Speech-language pathologist Dr. Julie Washington says that most important thing about read-alouds with very young children is offering positive, joyful experiences around reading. (From our webcast, From Babbling to Books)

Dialect, language variation, and learning to read

We need to value and respect every child’s home language, not suppress it. If we are quick to “correct” examples of language varieties in speaking and writing — our students will become afraid to read. 

Dr. Julie Washington

Dr. Julie Washington teaches us how to take full advantage of our students’ oral language “repertoire” to become skilled fluent readers. As a speech-language pathologist, researcher, and fellow at the University of California in Irvine, her work focuses on the intersection of literacy, language variation, and poverty in African American children from preschool through fifth grades. She explains how to bridge African American English to print — a critical skill for reading, writing, and spelling. Watch and learn how to take what you already know about teaching reading and adapt it so it works for everybody. This video is one of the timely talks from our sister project, Reading Universe (opens in a new window).

Especially for parents

Resources from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA)

For more information, see the ASHA Back-to-School Digital Toolkit (opens in a new window). The toolkit includes the helpful resources and videos shown below.

Thank you to our longtime partner, ASHA, for sharing these helpful resources!

Getting to Know Your School’s Speech Language Pathologist

A Parent’s Guide to Speech, Language, and Hearing Services in Schools