Ages & Stages

Kids are all different and will develop their speech and language skills at varying rates. However, there are some crucial skills that should be reached at certain stages in each child’s development. The following information is designed to act as a guide to help parents understand their child’s speech and language development and determine if further support is required.

Speech Development

3 years d, g, b, t, k, p, n, m, ng, w, y, zh, h
3 ½ years f, v
4 years l, sh, ch
4 ½ years dge, s, z
5 years r
8 years th

Communication Development

By 2 years of age:

  • Recognises up to 5 body parts
  • Understands “no” and up to 300 vocabulary words
  • Uses over 100 vocabulary words
  • Starting to combine put words together, e.g. “bye bye mummy”
  • Makes familiar animal sounds
  • Starting to use some early pronoun words, e.g. “me, mine”
  • Uses words such as “more” to make needs known
  • Answers simple “what” questions, e.g. “what is this?”
  • Waves good bye
  • Brings an object from another room when asked
  • Has speech that is intelligible 25-50% of the time

By 3 years of age:

  • Is able to understand most of what is said to them
  • Follow two-step instructions, such as “get the ball and put it in the box”
  • Builds sentences 3-4 words in length
  • Has an expressive vocabulary of up to 450 words
  • Uses negative in sentences, e.g. “no want juice”
  • Uses some grammatical structures such as plurals “balls”, regular past tense “cooked”, and possessives “his/cat’s”
  • Understands and uses different concept vocabulary such as size, shape, colour and location
  • Asks and answers a greater range of ‘wh’ questions, e.g. “who/what/where”
  • Can say their name on request and show their age using their fingers
  • Can solve problems through talking rather than crying
  • Takes turns during a conversation
  • Has speech that is 50-75% intelligible most of the time

By 4 years of age:

  • Understands more complex vocabulary such as “yesterday” and “tonight”
  • Follows two and three step instructions
  • Builds sentences 4-5 words in length
  • Names colours and shapes
  • Tells stories and re-tells an event in chronological order
  • Engages in longer conversations
  • Understand and asks more complex questions, e.g. “how/why”
  • Uses more complex sentence structures through words such as ‘and’ and ‘because’
  • Uses grammatical structures more accurately
  • Has speech that is 80% intelligible

By 5 years of age:

  • Is able to understand…
  • Listens to short stories…
  • Accurately talks about experiences, such as things done during the day
  • Applies most grammatical structures…
  • Describes the functions of objects
  • Asks questions to gather information
  • Understands ‘same’ and ‘different’
  • Has intelligible speech to all people