During a child’s fourth and fifth years, their speech and language skills continue developing at a rapid rate. They still understand more words than they actually use, but the ability to describe abstract concepts is increasing. While there may still be some difficult speech sounds to master, most of what a child this age says is understandable. Socially, the five-year-old child enjoys talking with others, and is learning to adjust their speech as the situation requires.
The following are some key speech and language milestones that you can expect from a child between four and five years of age. Every child develops at a unique pace, though, and your own child may not have all of these skills until the very end of this age range.
If you’re concerned that your child needs help meeting these milestones, make an appointment with a speech-language pathologist at WestField Speech Solutions to determine further action.
- With an understanding of about 2500-2800 words, the child comprehends most of what is heard at home and school (including stories, conversations, and movies.)
- Understands “sequence” words, such as those describing time (yesterday, today, tomorrow) and order (such as first, next, last)
- Follows multi-step directions (such as “Change into your raincoat, put on your boots, and get an umbrella.”)
- Follows classroom instructions (such as “Circle the picture of something that flies.”)
- Uses about 1,500-2,000 words, including: Letters and numbers; common opposites; pronouns; verb tenses (past, present, future) and irregular nouns and verbs. Mistakes with the correct usage, however, are still common at this age (such as “He falled off the swing”)
- Speaks clearly 80-90% of the time, but may still make mistakes with the more difficult speech sounds (such as s, l, r, sh, ch, th, j, v, and z.)
- The child can use concrete items as prompts to make up short stories, or to describe how common objects are used. Language also emerges for less concrete uses, such as connecting ideas, recalling events, or wondering aloud.
- Can repeat themselves in response to “What did you say?” and can repeat sentences that they’ve heard up to 10-12 syllables.
- Enjoys “chit chat,” and can keep a conversation going with others their age.
- Starts to adjust their speech to the particular needs of a situation (such as using their “inside voice,” or using shorter sentences with toddlers)
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