Is my child's speech & language developing at a normal pace?

 One of the questions I get the most working as speech therapist in an elementary school is, is my child's speech & language developing at a normal pace?  While children often develop at their own pace below are some general rules of thumb when it comes to typical development.


1-2 Years of Age



  • Can point to body parts when asked.

  • Will listed to simple stories, songs and rhymes.

  • Can point to pictures when asked.



  • Vocabulary progresses monthly.

  • Can use one or two words questions.

  • Can put two words together.

  • Uses many different constant sounds at the beginning of words.


2-3 Years of Age



  • Can understand differences in meaning between words or statements.  (Ex: in-out, up-down, go-stop)

  • Can follow two requests. (Ex: Put your shoes on and then come outside)

  • Will listen and enjoy stories for longer periods of time.



  • Has a word for almost everything.

  • Will ask or direct attention to obects by naming them.

  • May stutter on words or sounds.

  • Asks why?


3-4 Years of Age



  • Understands words for colors.   Ex: Blue, Green, Red

  • Understands words for shapes.  Ex: Circle, Square

  • Understands family relationships: Ex: Brother, Grandmother, Aunt



  • Can use about 4 sentences at a time.

  • Can discuss and recall daily events and activities at school.

  • Can say rhyming words.

  • Can use plural words. Ex: Cats, Cars & Toys.

  • Will ask when and why questions.

  • Will answer simple Who?, What? & When? questions.

  • Will use pronouns like, I, you, me and we.


4-5 Years of Age



  • Will understand words for order.  Ex: First, Last, Second.

  • Can understand words for time. Ex: Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow.

  • Can follow longer directions and instruction at school.



  • Knows names, letters and numbers.

  • Can keep a conversation going.

  • Will use sentences with multiple action words.

  • Can tell a short story.

  • Will talk with out repeating words or sounds most of the time.

Source: ASHA.Org


If you are a concerned parent with a child exhibiting several behaviors that fall outside these ranges it may be time to schedule an evaluation with a speech and language therapist.  Early intervention can significantly reduce the amount of time needed to remedy a behavior and allow your child to focus on reading, writing and interpersonal relationships.


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