New research has found many children starting primary school are not able to speak properly, some with the language skills of toddlers.
In fact, up to two thirds of new entrants in schools that were part of one study, had poor oral language skills. It's part of a pilot scheme in Christchurch and Auckland primary schools called the "Better Start Literacy Approach".
So what is happening and what might be needed to ensure children get off to a better start?
Kathryn Ryan talks with Associate Professor Brigid McNeill, Deputy Head of School at Teacher Education at the University of Canterbury and also the principal of Gilberthorpe Primary School in Hornby, Andrew Wilkinson.