Milestones for Language and Speech Development

If you have concerns regarding your child’s Speech Development, our short checklist of skills below can help you decide whether to pursue Speech Language Therapy. Many parents question whether their child is saying enough sounds, articulating clearly enough, or experiencing a language delay. The milestones listed below are a good starting point to determining if your child is on a normal speech development path.

Developmental Language Milestones by Age

0 - 12 Months

Hearing & Understanding

0-3 Months

  • Startles to loud sounds
  • Quiets or smiles (6 wks) when spoken to
  • Seems to recognize your voice and quiets if crying
  • Increases or decreases sucking behavior in response to sound

 

4-6 Months

  • Moves eyes in direction of sounds
  • Responds to changes in tone of voice
  • Notices toys that make noise
  • Pays attention to music
  • Begins to reach for & play with toys

 

7-12 Months

  • Enjoys Peek-a-boo type games
  • Listens when spoken to
  • Recognizes words for common items
  • Begins to respond to requests like “come here” and “want more?”

Talking

0-3 Months

  • Makes pleasure sounds (cooing, gooing)
  • Has different cries for different needs
  • Begins to smile around 6 weeks

 

4-6 Months

  • Coo’s reciprocally, blows bubbles, and makes “raspberry” sounds
  • Laughs, squeals, imitates sounds
  • Initiates by vocalizing and babbling to others

 

7-12 Months

  • Babbles using several sounds (bababa, dadada, ada ma ba)
  • Uses speech or non-crying sounds to get attention
  • Uses gestures to communicate (waving,holding up arms)
  • Imitates speech sounds
  • Has 1-2 words by 12 mos
1- 2 Years

Hearing & Understanding

12-15 Months

  • Points to a few body parts, items of clothing, and animals when named
  • Follows simple one step commands by 15 months (come here, bring the ___)
  • Understands simple questions ( “Where’s your diaper?”)
  • Takes turns imitating routines
  • Requests assistance
  • Plays peek-a-boo type games
  • Waves bye- bye

 

18 Months

  • Follows simple 2 step commands
  • Begins to “pretend” play
  • Points to pictures in a book when named
  • Understands 200 words

 

2 years

  • Follows 2 step commands with spatial concepts
  • Listens to short stories
  • Points to items in a book when named
  • Match sounds to animals By 2.5
  • Matches shapes and colors
  • Understands big/little
  • Understands pronouns (I, you, we, etc)

Talking

12-15 Months

  • Says a few words (approx. 10)
  • Uses unintelligible words
  • Communicates with gestures
  • Shouts or vocalizes to get attention

 

18 Months

  • Uses between 50-100 words
  • Begins to put two words together (mommy hug)
  • Uses some 2 word questions
  • Answers questions “whats this”
  • Uses nouns, verbs, possessives (mine), rejections (no) and agents (names)
  • Uses consonants at the beginning of words (m, n, h, w, p, b)

 

2 years

  • 200+ word vocabulary used
  • Uses mostly 2 word phrases
  • Uses pronouns (me, you)
  • Responds to yes/no question
  • Uses verbs and adjectives
  • Refers to self by name
  • Responds to where and what questions
  • Uses 3 word phrases often
  • Uses possession (my, your) and grammatical endings (-s, -ing, -ed)
2-3 Years

Hearing & Understanding

  • Understands size (big, little), spatial (in, on, under), quantitative concepts (one, some, rest, all), and some adjectives
  • Points to action words in pictures
  • Responds to simple “what” and “where” questions
  • Answers Yes/No and WH-questions correctly
  • Listens to and enjoys stories
  • UKnows, matches, and sorts shapes and colors
  • Play “house” and other pretend play sequences

Talking

  • Uses 3-5 word sentences and has a word for almost everything!
  • Asks for objects by name
  • Uses the pronouns I, Me, My and states their first and last name
  • Uses plurals (cars), progressive -ing endings (jumping)
  • Asks simple WH-questions
  • Uses the consonants y, t, d, k, g, and f correctly
  • Is understood by familiar listeners most of the time
3-4 Years

Hearing & Understanding

  • Answers Who, What, Where, and Why questions
  • Understands the concepts of “same” and “different”
  • Follows 3 step directions (go upstairs, get your shirt, and put it in the laundry)
  • Understands quantitative concepts (one, some, rest, all)
  • Understands negatives (which baby is NOT crying)
  • Understands color and shape
  • Understands spatial concepts (under, next to, in front, behind, etc)

Talking

  • Uses full, 4-6 word sentences (compound and complex)
  • Is fully intelligible to strangers by age 4
  • Asks How, Why and When questions
  • Can tell a short story about activities of their day
  • Begins to use past tense words, and a variety of tenses (jump, jumps, jumped, jumping)
  • Uses the following sounds correctly: m, n, h, w, p, b, y, t, d, k, g, f
  • Understands negatives (which bear is not jumping)
4-5 Years

Hearing & Understanding

  • Pays attention to a short story and answers simple questions about it
  • Understands complex spatial concepts (under, front, behind, next to, above)
  • Understands the concepts More and Most
  • Can name an object that is described to them
  • Answers questions logically
  • Has knowledge of numbers
  • Understands rhyming

Talking

  • Uses sentences up to 8 words, with superlatives and details (this is the biggest peach of all!)
  • Tells cohesive, on topic stories and uses correct grammar (including possessives: the boy’s hat)
  • Says rhyming words
  • Communicates easily with children and adults
  • Asks for the meaning of words
  • Uses the same grammar as the rest of the family
  • Says most sounds correctly, except: r, sh, ch, th, z
  • Names some letters and numbers
5-6 Years

Hearing & Understanding

  • Understands complex spatial and quantitative concepts (3 cats 6 leaves)
  • Listen to and understand age appropriate stories read aloud
  • Follow a simple conversation
  • Points to letters

Reading

  • Know how a book works (e.g., read from left to right and top to bottom in English)
  • Understand that spoken words are made up of sounds
  • Identify words that rhyme (e.g., cat and hat)
  • Compare and match words based on their sounds
  • Understand that letters represent speech sounds and match sounds to letters
  • Identify upper- and lowercase letters
  • Recognize some words by sight
  • “Read” a few picture books from memory
  • Imitate reading by talking about pictures in a book

Writing

  • Print own first and last name
  • Draw a picture that tells a story and label and write about the picture
  • Write upper- and lowercase letters (may not be clearly written)

Talking

  • Use all sounds correctly, including R, L, S, Ng, V, Sh, Chwith the exception of TH
  • Tell how an object is used
  • Answer hypothetical and open-ended questions
  • Name letters and sounds
  • Understand what a “word” is
  • Retell a story or talk about an event
  • Participate in conversation, start conversations

Engaging Your Child from 5-6 Years Old

  • Continue reading to me, but make sure you ask me to identify letters, sounds, simple words, and rhymes. Ask me what sounds a word beings and ends with.
  • Pick two objects and ask me what is similar about them, and what is different. Have me tell you how two objects are alike.
  • When I come to the grocery store with you, lets talk about categories (fruit, veggies, etc) and have me name items that begin with each letter of the Alphabet.
  • I should be able to tell full stories that make sense and follow an order
  • Lets work on puzzles…I need challenges to learn new skills
  • Lets make up stories about animals that begin with a particular sound, and use that sound throughout the story (“Annie alligator likes to eat apples and artichokes”)
  • Lets create our own books from magazine pictures, then help me to write the story underneath
  • Remember, I might be a “big kid” but I still need to have fun to learn…make all learning experiences fun, silly and rewarding!
1st Grade

Hearing & Understanding

  • Remember information
  • Respond to instructions
  • Follow 2-3 step directions in a sequence

Reading

  • Create rhyming words
  • Identify all sounds in short words
  • Blend separate sounds to form words
  • Match spoken words with print
  • Know how a book works (e.g., read from left to right and top to bottom in English)
  • Identify letters, words, and sentences
  • Sound out words when reading
  • Have a sight vocabulary of 100 common words
  • Read grade-level material fluently
  • Understand what is read

Talking

  • Be easily understood
  • Answer more complex “yes/no” questions
  • Tell and retell stories and events in a logical order
  • Express ideas with a variety of complete sentences
  • Use most parts of speech (grammar) correctly
  • Ask and respond to “wh” questions (who, what, where, when, why)
  • Stay on topic and take turns in conversation
  • Give directions
  • Start conversations

Writing

  • Express ideas through writing
  • Print clearly
  • Spell frequently used words correctly
  • Begin each sentence with capital letters and use ending punctuation
  • Write a variety of stories, journal entries, or letters/notes
2nd Grade

Hearing & Understanding

  • Follow 3-4 oral directions in a sequence
  • Understand direction words (e.g., location, space, and time words)
  • Correctly answer questions about a grade-level story

Reading

  • Have fully mastered phonics/sound awareness
  • Associate speech sounds, syllables, words, and phrases with their written forms
  • Recognize many words by sight; Reread and self-correct
  • Use meaning clues when reading (e.g., pictures, titles/headings, information in the story)
  • Locate information to answer questions
  • Explain key elements of a story (main idea, main characters, plot)
  • Use own experience to predict and justify what will happen in grade-level stories
  • Read, paraphrase/retell a story in a sequence
  • Read grade-level stories, poetry, or dramatic text silently and aloud with fluency
  • Read spontaneously
  • Identify and use spelling patterns in words when reading

Writing

  • Write legibly
  • Use a variety of sentence types in writing essays, poetry, or short stories (fiction and nonfiction)
  • Use basic punctuation and capitalization appropriately
  • Organize writing to include beginning, middle, and end/li>
  • Spell frequently used words correctly
  • Progress from inventive spelling (e.g., spelling by sound) to more accurate spelling

Talking

  • Be easily understood
  • Answer more complex “yes/no” questions
  • Ask and answer “wh” questions (e.g., who, what, where, when, why)
  • Use increasingly complex sentence structures
  • Clarify and explain words and ideas
  • Give directions with 3-4 steps
  • Use oral language to inform, to persuade, and to entertain
  • Stay on topic, take turns, and use appropriate eye contact during conversation
  • Open and close conversation appropriately

Working With Your Child to Achieve Success

  • Talk with your child frequently
  • Read a variety of books; read often and talk with your child about the story
  • Help your child focus on sound patterns of words such as those found in rhyming games
  • Have your child retell stories and talk about events of the day
  • Talk with your child during daily activities; give directions for your child to follow (e.g., making cookies)
  • Talk about how things are alike and different
  • Lets create our own books from magazine pictures, then help me to write the story underneath
  • Give your child reasons and opportunities to write
3rd Grade

Hearing & Understanding

  • Listen attentively in group situations
  • Understand grade-level material

Reading

  • Demonstrate full mastery of basic phonics
  • Use word analysis skills when reading
  • Use clues from language content and structure to help understand what is read
  • Predict and justify what will happen next in stories and compare and contrast stories
  • Ask and answer questions regarding reading material
  • Use acquired information to learn about new topics
  • Read grade-level books fluently (fiction and nonfiction)
  • Reread and correct errors when necessary

Talking

  • Speak clearly with an appropriate voice
  • Ask and respond to questions
  • Participate in conversations and group discussions
  • Use subject-related vocabulary
  • Stay on topic, use appropriate eye contact, and take turns in conversation
  • Summarize a story accurately
  • Explain what has been learned

Writing

  • Plan, organize, revise, and edit
  • Include details in writing/li>
  • Write stories, letters, simple explanations, and brief reports
  • Spell simple words correctly, correct most spelling independently, and use a dictionary to correct spelling
  • Write clearly in cursive
4th Grade

Hearing & Understanding

  • Listen to and understand information presented by others
  • Form opinions based on evidence
  • Listen for specific purposes

Reading

  • Read for specific purposes & read grade-level books fluently
  • Use previously learned information to understand new material
  • Follow written directions & take brief notes
  • Link information learned to different subjects
  • Learn meanings of new words through knowledge of word origins, synonyms, and multiplemeanings
  • Use reference materials (e.g., dictionary)
  • Explain the author’s purpose and writing style
  • Read and understand a variety of types of literature, including fiction, nonfiction, historical fiction, and poetry
  • Compare and contrast in content areas
  • Make inferences from texts
  • Paraphrase content, including the main idea and details

Talking

  • Use words appropriately in conversation
  • Use language effectively for a variety of purposes
  • Understand some figurative language (e.g., “the forest stretched across”)
  • Participate in group discussions
  • Give accurate directions to others
  • Summarize and restate ideas
  • Organize information for clarity
  • Use subject area information and vocabulary (e.g., social studies) for learning
  • Make effective oral presentations

Writing

  • Write effective stories and explanations, including several paragraphs about the same topic
  • Develop a plan for writing, including a beginning, middle, and end
  • Organize writing to convey a central idea
  • Edit final copies for grammar, punctuation, and spelling
5th Grade

Hearing & Understanding

  • Listen and draw conclusions in subject area learning activities

Writing

  • Write for a variety of purposes
  • Use vocabulary effectively
  • Vary sentence structure
  • Revise writing for clarity
  • Edit final copies

Talking

  • Make planned oral presentations appropriate to the audience
  • Maintain eye contact and use gestures, facial expressions, and appropriate voice during group presentations
  • Understand some figurative language (e.g., “the forest stretched across”)
  • Participate in class discussions across subject areas
  • Summarize main points
  • Report about information gathered in group activities
  • Read grade-level books fluently
  • Learn meanings of unfamiliar words through knowledge of root words, prefixes, and suffixes
  • Prioritize information according to the purpose of reading
  • Read a variety of literary forms
  • Describe development of character and plot
  • Describe characteristics of poetry
  • Analyze author’s language and style
  • Use reference materials to support opinions

Does your child show signs of speech-language disorders? Speech delays, late talker, articulation problems, apraxia, feeding problems?

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