Speech/Language Skills: 2 to 6 years
It is important for parents to help their children develop speech/language skills at a young age so that their children will be able to use speech/language to communicate. Speech means making the sounds that make words. Speech issues include difficulties in the pronunciation of sounds (articulation), stuttering, or physical problems with a child's mouth that interfere with talking and eating. Language means using words and sentences to express wants, needs or ideas. Language development relates to the understanding of spoken information (such as following directions or understanding concepts, like "big and little") and expression/talking (such as using sentences, asking questions and telling stories).
Language development follows a predictable pattern which may be reached within a range of months. Adequate language development depends upon physical, motor, sensory, cognitive and social growth during the first 6 years of age. Cognitive development relates to the development of mental processes such as thinking, remembering and reasoning. These skills lay the foundation for language, social, self-help and motor skills.
Here are general guidelines for speech/language development for children ages 2 to 6 years.
- Comprehends and asks for "another" understands "in" and "on"
- By 30 months uses plurals; names/identifies objects by use
- Gives full name when asked
- Follows three-step directions
- Uses 3-4 word sentences; asks "why" questions
- Cognitively, matches primary colors; has concept of "two"; engages in make believe play
- Makes requests, comments, tells others what to do
- Talks about things that happened and makes up stories; listens attentively to stories and retells stories themselves
- Enjoys books about real things as well as make believe
- Compares long versus short; responds to "how" and "where" questions
- Cognitively, counts to five; understands the concept of "three"; knows two colors and some coins
- Asks many questions
- Recounts stories and the recent past Discusses feelings; understands "before" and "after"
- Plays with words and makes up silly words and stories
- Cognitively, counts to 13 by 5 years of age; develops time concepts of today, tomorrow, yesterday; recognizes the relationship of parts to whole
- Defines by function (when you ask a child what a spoon is, instead of saying "utensil" the child says "you eat with it")
- Uses all parts of speech to some degree
- Recognizes and can reproduce many shapes, letters and numbers
- Understands that letters written on a page represent spoken words
- Uses invented spelling (e.g., color could be spelled "kulr")
- Cognitively, attention span has increased; remembers and repeats three digits
Note: The discipline of Speech and Language Pathology addresses problems related to speech and language development. This information is a general guide to help you determine if your child is progressing at the rate expected for his or her age. Please keep in mind that each child is unique and develops skills at their own rate. If you are concerned about your child's development, a physician or therapist may be able to assist with an evaluation.
Information provided by Madeline Bryan, MEd, CCC/SLP, Speech /Language Pathologist, and Barbara Lent, MEd, CCC/SLP, Therapy Team Leader.