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What is the Preschool Speech and Language Program?

Grandview Children’s Centre is the lead agency for preschool speech and language services in Durham Region. This program is one of 30 preschool speech and language initiatives funded by Ontario’s Ministry of Child, Community and Social Services. The program was created to ensure that all preschool children are given the best chance of reaching their full communication potential.

From birth, children develop the communication skills that will help them succeed in school and in life.  At least one in 10 children need help developing appropriate communication skills.  Without this help, a child may struggle to talk and listen, learn to read and write, and to play and interact with other children. The Preschool Speech and Language Program address difficulties in the following areas:

  • interacting with others (social skills)
  • using language (talking)
  • understanding language (listening)
  • speech production (articulation / pronunciation)
  • speaking fluently (stuttering)
  • voice
  • feeding / swallowing

Who is eligible for Preschool Speech and Language Services at Grandview?

Services are available for children from birth up until the spring of the year they are eligible to enter the second year of kindergarten (senior kindergarten). Referrals to the program must be made by December in the year a child is eligible to attend the first year of kindergarten (junior kindergarten).

How do I know if I should be concerned about my child’s speech and language development?

Developmental milestones show some of the skills that mark the progress of young children as they learn to communicate. If your child is not meeting one or more of these milestones, a referral is recommended.

  • turns to source of sounds
  • startles in response to sudden, loud noises
  • makes different cries for different needs — I’m hungry, I’m tired
  • watches your face as you talk
  • smiles and laughs in response to your smiles and laughs
  • imitates coughs or other sounds — ah, eh, buh
  • responds to his/her name
  • responds to the telephone ringing or a knock at the door
  • understands being told “no”
  • gets what he/she wants through sounds and gestures e.g.,
  • reaching to be picked up
  • plays social games with you e.g., peek-a-boo
  • enjoys being around people
  • babbles and repeats sounds — babababa, duhduhduh
  • follows simple one-step directions — “sit down”
  • looks across the room to something you point to
  • uses three or more words
  • uses gestures to communicate — waves “bye bye”,
  • shakes head “no”
  • gets your attention using sounds, gestures and pointing while looking at your eyes
  • brings you toys to show you
  • “performs” for attention and praise
  • combines lots of sounds as though talking — abada baduh abee
  • shows interest in simple picture books
  • understands the concepts of “in and out”, “off and on”
  • points to several body parts when asked
  • uses at least 20 words
  • responds with words or gestures to simple questions —
  • “Where’s teddy?”, “What’s that?”
  • demonstrates some pretend play with toys — gives teddy a drink
  • makes at least four different consonant sounds — b, n, d, g, w, h
  • enjoys being read to and looking at simple books with you
  • points to pictures using one finger
  • follows two-step directions — “Go find your teddy bear and show it to Grandma”
  • uses 100 or more words
  • uses at least two pronouns — “you”, “me”, “mine”
  • consistently combines two or more words in short phrases — “daddy hat”, “truck go down”
  • enjoys being with other children
  • begins to offer toys to peers and imitates other children’s actions and words
  • people can understand his/her words 50 to 60 per cent of the time
  • forms words and sounds easily and effortlessly
  • holds books the right way up and turns pages
  • “reads” to stuffed animals or toys
  • scribbles with crayons
  • understands the concepts of size (big/little) and quantity (a little, a lot, more)
  • uses some adult grammar — “two apples”, “bird flying”, “I jumped”
  • uses more than 350 words
  • uses action words — run, spill, fall
  • begins taking short turns with other children, using both toys and words
  • shows concern when another child is hurt or sad
  • combines several actions in play — feeds doll then puts her to sleep; puts blocks in train then drives train and drops blocks off
  • puts sounds at the start of most words
  • produces words with two or more syllables or beats —
  • “ba-na-na”, “com-pu-ter”, “a-pple”
  • recognizes familiar logos and signs — stop sign
  • remembers and understands familiar stories
  • understands “who”, “what”, “where” and “why” questions
  • creates long sentences, using 5 or more words
  • talks about past events – trip to grandparents’ house,
  • day at childcare
  • tells simple stories
  • shows affection for favourite playmates
  • engages in multi-step pretend play – cooking a meal, repairing a car
  • is understood by most people outside of the family, most of the time
  • is aware of the function of print – in menus, lists, signs
  • has a beginning interest in, and awareness of, rhyming
  • follows directions involving 3 or more steps – “First get some paper, then draw a picture, last give it to mom”
  • uses adult-type grammar
  • tells stories with a clear beginning, middle and end
  • talks to try to solve problems with adults and other children
  • demonstrates increasingly complex imaginative play
  • is understood by strangers almost all of the time
  • is able to generate simple rhymes – “cat-bat”
  • matches some letters with their sounds –
  • “letter T says ‘tuh’
  • follows group directions – “all the boys get a toy”
  • understands directions involving “if…then” – “If you’re wearing runners, then line up for gym”
  • describes past, present and future events in detail
  • seeks to please his/her friends
  • shows increasing independence in friendships – may visit neighbour by him/herself
  • uses almost all of the sounds of their language with few to no errors
  • knows all the letters of the alphabet
  • identifies the sounds at the beginning of some words – “Pop starts with the ‘puh’ sound”

Brochures about Preschool Speech and Language are available here in the following languages:

  • عربي‎
  • 简体中文
  • فارسى
  • Deutsch
  • Italiano
  • 한국어
  • Polski
  • Português
  • ਪੰਜਾਬੀ
  • Русский
  • Soomaali
  • Español
  • Tagalog
  • اردو
  • Tiếng Việt

Making a Referral / What should I do if I have concerns about my child’s speech and language development?

If you are concerned about your child’s speech and language development please contact Grandview at 905-728-1673 (or toll free 1-800-304-6180). Extension 2261 and make a referral to the Preschool Speech and Language Program. Referrals from other agencies are accepted with parents’ consent. Physician referrals are accepted but not required. Please complete a Grandview Children’s Centre Referral Form.

What services are offered by the Preschool Speech and Language Program?

Parent Orientation Session

Following your child’s referral to the program, you will be invited to register for a 90 minute Parent Orientation Session. This session will provide you with information about:

  • the types of services offered by the program
  • the important role parents/caregivers play in supporting their child’s speech and language development

what happens during the first assessment appointment and what the next steps after this appointment will be

During the orientation session, you will also be given time to complete and return a questionnaire.  The questionnaire asks questions about your child’s medical history and speech and language development. It allows us to better prepare for your child’s assessment appointment.

Once you return your completed questionnaire, you will be contacted within 3-4 months to schedule your child’s first assessment appointment.

Your Child’s First Assessment

During the first assessment appointment, the Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) will talk with you about your child’s development and how he/she talks and understands. Depending on your child’s age and ability, the SLP may also evaluate your child’s communication skills using standardized assessment tools and/or by observing and playing with your child. At the end of the appointment (or at a subsequent appointment, if required), the SLP will explain the results of the assessment and discuss with you specific goals to address your child’s communication difficulties. Treatment to target these goals will also be proposed (specific types of treatments are described below).


Following an assessment or reassessment, the SLP will discuss with you an appropriate treatment to address the goals identified. This will involve one or more of the following:

Parent Workshops

Parent workshops provide an opportunity for you to learn how to help your child achieve the specific communication goals identified during the assessment. Workshops are lead by a SLP or Speech-Language Therapy Assistant (SLTA) and involve a combination of lecture, videos, hands-on practice and home activities. They typically are offered in the evening for 1 to 4 weekly sessions. One-day workshops may also be offered on a Saturday. You will also be invited to attend a parent-child group or individual sessions with your child.  to give you an opportunity to practise the strategies you have learned during the workshop Following attendance to a workshop you will

Parent-Child groups

Parent-child group will give you the opportunity to practice the strategies introduced during the workshop. Speech and Language clinicians will provide coaching and feedback so that you feel confident in using these strategies to help your child practice new speech and language skills.

Home Programming

The SLP may provide you with activities and strategies to target your child’s speech and language goals during daily routines, play interactions and book sharing interactions at home. One or two follow-up appointments may be offered to teach you to use these strategies and ensure that you feel comfortable with how you are to help your child practice new speech and language skills. Throughout the home programming period, the SLP will be available (by telephone) to monitor your child’s progress and discuss any questions or concerns you may have.

Group and Individual Treatment

Your child may be invited to attend a therapy group to target his/her speech and language goals. Groups range in size from 2 to 6 children and are run by an SLP and/or by an SLTA (Speech-Language Therapy Assistant), under the supervision of an SLP. Each session is approximately 45-75 minutes in length.  Parents are invited to actively participate in the groups so that they can better implement the strategies and activities at home.  Homework may be assigned following a therapy session.  Daily home practice is essential for your child to achieve his/her speech and language goals.


Re-assessments are an opportunity for the SLP to evaluate your child’s overall progress as well as his/her progress on the specific speech and language goals set at the previous assessment. Additional treatment (as outlined above) may be recommended. Re-assessments typically occur every 3-6 months.

Transition to School

As your child approaches his/her first year of kindergarten, the SLP will discuss with you the transition to school based services.  A final speech and language assessment will be completed in the fall or winter of your child’s first year of kindergarten and a final report summarizing your child’s progress and speech and language needs will be provided.  With your written consent, a copy of the final speech and language report will be forwarded to the school board. The SLP will also be available to discuss your child’s needs with relevant school personnel.

For additional information, download a copy of the “Transition to School-based Speech and Language Services”

What can I do to help my child while he/she is waiting for speech-language services?

Here are some resources you can explore:

  • York Region Preschool Speech and Language have partnered with other early years professionals to develop a number of helpful resources including e-learning modules on a number of topics:
  • The Eastern Ontario Health Unit has created a series of videos demonstrating some of the communication milestones children reach throughout their first 5 years of life.  Videos include tips and strategies to help develop a child’s speech and language skills during each period.  Click here to view these videos.
  • You can download a free copy of our Growing with Communication resource for parents with children under age 5.
  • The Hanen Centre offers a number of resources including, articles and tips for parents. Try the “helpful info” tab on their website:
  • EarlyON Child and Family Centres have free drop-in and registered programs for families with children from birth to age six. You can find programs at sites across Durham Region.
  • Carea Community Health Centre provides a variety of free community programs at five locations in Durham Region including several services and programs for children 0-6 years (e.g. “Ready for School Program”, “Getting Ready for Kindergarten” and “Rise and Shine Playtime”).
  • If you are concerned that your child is stuttering, download an information package for parents. For further information on stuttering, please visit the following websites:
    •  (Speech and Stuttering Institute)
    • (Stuttering Foundation has a number of free Videos including:  7 Tips for Talking with the Child who Stutters; Stuttering: Straight Talk for Teachers; Stuttering and Your Child: Help For Parents)

Information About Private Speech and Language Services:

  • Families who wish to access services from a private Speech-Language Pathologist can access the following:
    • “Find a Practitioner” on the Ontario Speech and Language Association website.
    • Click here for some additional information to assist you with accessing private SLP services.

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