It’s that time of year again. Like most parents, you are likely finally catching your breath from the back to school whirlwind….or you may not even be quite there yet.   Then, progress reports come. Some of you may have expected some struggles, and others may be surprised by the new struggles your child is experiencing. The good news is, it is still early in the school year and a lot of progress can be made. Discuss your questions and concerns with your child’s teacher and ask how you can help your child at home.

We can also help. Speech Therapists are highly trained professionals in oral and written communication. A Speech Therapist can help the struggling student with his/her literacy skills, aid in his/her ability to follow directions in the classroom, retell stories, support his/her social skills, and much more.

Below we have listed some developmental norms for the young school age student and who could benefit from a Speech Therapist. Contact us with any questions or concerns regarding your child’s progress.

What should I expect from my school age child?

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 words
  •  speak with very few 

5 year olds:

 Understand yesterday/tomorrow, more/less, some/many, before/after
  •  Use complex sentences
  • Can answer “What happens if…..?” 
  • Can classify according to physical 
attributes, size, shape and colour
  • Know many letter names
  • Follow three-step directions
  • Repeat 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

Speech Therapists can help the struggling student 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.

Stuttering difficulties:

  • 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

Literacy difficulties

  • the child has weak pre- literacy/phonological awareness skills (e.g. rhyming, syllable counting, etc.)
  • 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)

For one of our past posts on “Supporting the Young Reader”, click here.



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