By the time children reach school age, they should be talking in full grammatically correct sentences. Long gone are the days of 1-2 word phrases and “baby talk”. Although children in Kindergarten may still present with some developmentally appropriate articulation difficulties, strangers should be able to understand them 100% of the time. Literacy acquisition also comes into play, from learning letter sounds, to building their phonological awareness, to reading and writing.
Speech and Language Milestones for School Age Children
4 year olds can:
- ask ‘wh’ questions
- understand most ‘wh’ questions
- speak in complete, and grammatically correct sentences (e.g., “The dog is hiding behind the tree.”)
- retell stories using picture clues
- count the number of syllables in
- speak with very few sound/articulation omissisions/substitutions.
5 year olds:
- Understand yesterday/tomorrow, more/less, some/many, before/after
- Use complex sentences
- Can answer “What happens if…..?” questions
- Can classify according to physical attributes, size, shape and colour
- Know many letter names
- Follow three-step directions
- Repeats sentences up to nine words in length
6 – 8 year olds:
- Use all pronouns correctly (e.g. “I”, “he”, “she”, “him”, etc)
- Speak like a “miniature adult” (ie., The child uses common sayings and correct grammar).
- Are able to provide definitions of words and multiple definitions of words.
- Are able to tell riddles and jokes
- Are able to understand frequently occurring idioms, metaphors, multiple meanings, and proverbs
- Are able to list events of a story in the appropriate order
Warning Signals for School-Aged Children Compared to other children the child’s age, he/she demonstrates difficulty…
- organizing words into sentences after age 5.
- understanding speech (e.g. stories, conversations, t.v. programs).
- following directions.
- recalling and retelling events and
- telling and understanding jokes.
- staying on topic in conversations.
- with appropriate play/social
- acquiring literacy skills.
For speech and language milestones for younger children, click here.
Speech Therapists / Speech Pathologists can help with the following:
Articulation/Speech clarity difficulties:
- the child is difficult to understand due to pronunciation issues
- the child is getting frustrated because peers/teachers are having difficulty understanding what he/she is saying.
- the child is repeating sounds (e.g. “b-b-b-ball), syllables (e.g. “ta-ta-table”), or blocks/gets stuck on a word and it looks as though no sound/air is coming out.
- the child is frustrated and avoiding certain words and situations.
Expressive Language difficulties
- the child has difficulty retelling a grammatically correct story in logical order
- the child uses a lot of vague/non-specific vocabulary (e.g. ‘this’, ‘that’, ‘thing’, ‘it)
Receptive Language difficulties
- the child has difficulty following simple or complex instructions
- the child appears to have weak vocabulary knowledge
- the child has poor knowledge of various concepts (e.g. ‘beside’, ‘in front’, ‘some’, ‘alll’, ‘empty’, ‘full’, ‘middle’etc.)
- the child has difficulty making predictions, inferencing and problem solving
- the child has weak pre- literacy/phonological awareness skills
- the child has weak sound/letter knowledge
- the child has poor decoding skills
- the child has weak sight word knowledge
- the child has poor reading comprehension skills
- the child has poor writing skills (ie. The child struggles with spelling, writing a sentence/story in a coherent manner
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