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Speech Therapy Milestones for your 3 to 5 year old

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Are you concerned that your 3, 4 or 5 year old may need speech therapy? Here are some key milestones to use to better understand whether your concerns should be investigated further.

Your child’s speech and language development from ages 3 to 5 years old can be separated into two categories.

  1. Receptive. This is their ability to understand words and sounds
  2. Expressive. This is their ability to use speech and gestures to communicate.

Speech and language development becomes more advanced beginning around age 3 and can continue through the age of 5. Receptive language skills – or their ability to understand words and sounds – become more sophisticated during this period. She or he should be able to make subtle distinctions between objects and relationships. They should be able to understand multi-step requests. Most children also gradually speak more fluently and use proper grammar more consistently.

Review the table below to better understand how your child’s receptive and expressive language should be developing between 3 years and 5 years old. You can often provide helpful hints to exercise their skills. For example, you can ask your 5 year old son “Is that Bobby’s mom?” and then later ask him “Who is that?”

It is important to remember that there is no correct starting time for these skills and children develop differently. If you are unsure, be sure to talk to your physician or a qualified speech therapist. Our professional speech therapists offer free screenings via Zoom – signup below if you are interested in finding out more.

AgeReceptive Language ExamplesExpressive Language Examples
3 years old+ Follow two-part requests, such as “put your pajamas in the hamper and your slippers in the closet.”

+ Learn new words quickly; know most common object names.

+ Understand the concept of “two.”

+ Understand gender differences.

+ Know their own full name.
+ Begin correctly using plurals, pronouns, and prepositions more consistently.

+ Frequently ask “why” and “what.”

+ Often use complete sentences of 3 to 4 words.
4 years old+ Know the names of colors.

+ Understand the difference between things that are the same and things that are different, such as the difference between children and grown-ups.

+ Can follow three-step instructions, such as “Go to the sink, wash your hands, and dry them on the towel.”
+ Use the past tense of words.

+ Use sentences of 5 to 6 words.

+ Can describe something that has happened to them or tell a short story.

+ Can speak clearly enough to be intelligible to strangers almost all of the time.
5 years old+ Understand relationships between objects, such as “the girl who is playing ball” and “the boy who is jumping rope.”+ Usually can carry on a conversation with another person.

+ Often call people (or objects) by their relationship to others, such as “Bobby’s mom” instead of “Mrs. Smith.”

+ Can define words such as “spoon” and “cat.”

Are you concerned about your child’s speech development? We are qualified speech therapists and can help. Contact us and receive a free screening on Zoom.

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