Speech & Language Development
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Parents sometimes question whether their child's speech and language development in the early stages of their lives is on par with other children of similar age. Whilst children develop at different rates, there is a general pattern to a child’s speech and language development. Set out below is a summary of the key speech and language developmental milestones in the first years of a child's life.
By the age of one your child should:
- Recognise their own name and the names of familiar objects, for example “dad” or “teddy”.
- Find games fun, for example “peek-a-boo” or “round, round the garden”.
- Attempt familiar sounds, for example animal noises.
- Respond to simple requests such as “give it to mummy” and respond to questions like “more water?”
- Respond to “no”.
- Say one or more meaningful words, for example “mama”, “dada”, “no” or “bye-bye”.
By the age of two your child should:
- Name several common objects and name simple body parts, for example ‘eye’ and ‘nose’.
- Enjoy you singing songs, nursery rhymes and simple stories.
- Request songs and stories to be repeated several times.
- Demonstrate a vocabulary of 50 words or more.
- Understand simple commands, for example “Show me your nose”.
- Respond to simple questions, for example “Where is the cat?”
- Combine two words to make short sentences, for example “bye daddy” and “more water”.
- Point to pictures in a book and point to simple body parts when asked, for example pointing out a car in a book.
- Use some prepositions and pronouns, for example “me” and “I”, but not always correctly.
- Ask two word questions, for example ‘Where ball?”
- Talk to themselves or their toys during play.
- Pronounce words more clearly.
By the age of three your child should:
- Understand two stage instructions, for example “get your shoes and put them on”.
- Combine three or more words to make sentences, including using verbs more frequently.
- Ask for or draw attention to something by naming it, for example “mum, look car” and use attributes, for example “big car”.
- Recognise their own needs, for example hunger.
- Show interest regarding how things work or how they are used, for example a pen is something to write with.
- Enjoy story telling and asking questions.
- Have favourite books and television programs.
- Speak clearly enough to be understood by familiar people.
By the age of four your child should:
- Identify simple colours and shapes.
- Understand simple “who” “what” and “where” questions.
- Combine four words to make sentences.
- Use increasingly complex sentence structures with mostly correct grammatical markers.
- Talk about things that have happened at day care and other places other than home.
- Have fluent speech and be understood by people most of the time.
By the age of five your child should:
- Enjoy stories and be able to answer simple questions about those stories.
- Understand most things that are said at home and day care.
- Understand opposites, for example “ high/low, wet/dry”.
- Follow three step commands, for example “ get your lunch, take it to the table and sit down”.
- Be able to construct long detailed sentences using six or more words.
- Speak clearly and fluently with the majority of sounds being pronounced correctly so they can be understood by anyone.
- Be able to tell long, imaginative stories whilst sticking to the topic.
- Be able to explain why something has happened, for example “mum’s car stopped because the car ran out of petrol”.
- Be able to define objects in terms of their function, for example “You write with the pen”.
- Understand simple time concepts, for example, “day/night, tomorrow/ today”.
- Be able to articulate how they feel and share their ideas with you.
- Develop an interest in writing, numbers and reading.