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Back-to-School: Common Speech and Language Questions

Learn the important milestones to look out for in your child’s speech and language development & get your free handout!

Speech and language development is so important in a child’s early years. As the school year begins and kids are starting to get into their new routines, you may be wondering if your child’s speech and language development is where it should be for their age or grade.

Even though teachers are a great resource in noticing possible difficulties in speech and language development, the start of the school year is busy and it may take some time for kids to fully open up in order for these difficulties to be discovered. As a parent, having the knowledge of what to expect in your child’s speech and language development gives you the ability to be proactive and address any concerns you have off the bat.

Language Milestones

Language refers to the way a child can talk, understand, and use words to communicate. This area includes a lot of different skills, and a more detailed breakdown of developmental ages can be found on this page. These are just some of the skills we expect to see by age:

Infants (0-12 months)

· Babbles lots of different sounds

· Uses gestures like waving, reaching for “up,” and shaking head “no”

· Understands simple words and phrases like “no,” “come here”

· Listens to songs and stories for a short time

Toddlers (1-3 years)

· Use 1 word around 12 months of age

· Uses 10-50 words by 18 months

· Uses 50-300 words by 24 months

· Starts to combine words together around 24 months

· By age 3, combines 3+ words together

· Follows simple directions without gestures

· Follows increasingly complex directions, by 3 years can follow 2-3 step directions

· Points to objects to identify them in a book

Preschoolers (3-5 years)

· Answers who, what, where, when, why questions

· Talks about what happened during the day using about 4 sentences at a time

· Keeps an age-appropriate conversation going

· Understands words for colors and shapes

· Hears and understands most of what they hear at home and in school

School-age children (K-2nd grade)

· Tells or retells a story with a logical sequence and using detail

· Can take turns and stay on topic when talking

· Can identify rhyming words

· Follows 2-3 step directions in order (e.g. get a piece of paper, find a pencil, and write your name)

· Uses parts of speech or grammar correctly

· Uses more complex sentences

· Answers “wh” questions about stories and academic topics

For children between the ages of 0-3, I also recommend The Speech Sisters website for lots of great information and a free detailed milestone checklist.

Speech Sound Milestones

Speech sound or “articulation” skills refer to a child’s ability to say specific sounds clearly and correctly. Problems in this area would include if a child says the “w” sound for an “l” so “lion” sounds like “wion.” In general, these are the recommendations on when specific sounds should be developed:

By age 2-3, a child should use the sounds

· P, B, M, T, D, N, H, K, G, W, NG, F, Y

At age 4, a child should use the sounds

· L, J, CH, SH, S, Z, V

At age 5, a child should use the sounds

· R, TH (as in “there”), ZH (as in “treasure”)

At age 6, a child should use the sound

· TH (as in “teeth”)

Download this free handout below for a quick reference chart of these speech sound milestones!

Speech Milestones Downloadable Flyer
Download PDF • 618KB

Of course, all children develop at their own rate and these milestones are only meant to guide you. If you find that your child does not yet do many of these skills or use the sounds they are expected to, you may want to seek help from a speech-language pathologist.

What To Do If You Have Speech or Language Concerns

For age 0-3, Early Intervention is a resource provided in every county. This website gives an overview of the Early Intervention process in Virginia.

You also have the option of seeking private speech therapy services regardless of your child’s age. Making Waves Speech Therapy provides evaluations and speech therapy in our Virginia Beach office, as well as in daycare, preschool, and private school settings in Virginia Beach and Norfolk. We offer free 15 minute phone consultations to discuss your child’s specific needs and to see if a speech evaluation is recommended. Contact us to get started!

Making Waves Speech Therapy

522 S Independence Blvd Suite 203

Virginia Beach, VA 23452

(757) 453-4899

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