We are searching data for your request:
Upon completion, a link will appear to access the found materials.
Talking: What to expect when
By age 3, your child will probably have words for almost everything. And by age 4, he'll talk in sentences using five or more words, though his vocabulary will vary widely. He'll also be able to answer simple questions and mimic adult sounds well enough for most strangers to understand him.
A preschooler's speech is usually fluid and he can talk easily without repeating words, though he may still mispronounce some of them. At this age, he should be able to understand a two- or three-part directive, such as "Pick up the paper, fold it in half, and then bring it to me."
What you'll hear
Does it seem as if your child is talking nonstop? This chatty stage is crucial to learning new words and getting comfortable using them. A good grasp of language allows your child to express feelings, needs, and desires. And as his speech gets more sophisticated and he understands more words, he'll have more tools for thinking, telling stories, and talking with others.
What to listen for
Pronunciation: At age 3, your child may still struggle with certain consonant sounds, such as using a w sound for r and saying "wabbit" instead of "rabbit." Making a d sound instead of a th sound is another common mispronunciation (saying "dis," "dat," and "den" for "this," "that," and "then").
Don't worry – certain consonant sounds are tough for a preschooler to pronounce. For instance, producing a t sound instead of a k sound (for example, saying "tate" for "cake") is a common substitution and nothing to be concerned about unless it continues past age 5. Consonant sounds such as k and g are hard for preschoolers because they're produced at the back of the mouth, so your child can't actually see how to make the sound.
Lisping: Your child may also lisp or pronounce the s sound like th. So the sentence "My sister is seven" comes out as "My thithter ith theven." If your child's s sounds this way, chances are you don't need to be alarmed. Many children lisp, and most outgrow it without intervention by age 7.
Flow: It's perfectly normal for children around age 3 to speak in choppy, labored language. But somewhere between age 3 and 4, your child's thoughts should start to flow in more complete sentences with far less effort than she needed when she just turned 3. Most of the time, your child shouldn't have to stop and think about what to say or how to say it. She should be able to start telling you simple stories.
Stuttering: Although stuttering often concerns parents, at this age it's a normal developmental phase that many children go through. Your child is in the midst of a great leap in her language skills, so it's natural that she may have some difficulty putting sentences together fluently. Her rapidly developing brain is trying to pull up the right words in the right order. In the process, she may repeat the whole word or first syllable (not just the first sound) – this is what most people think of when they think of stuttering.
Some experts speculate that children may regress before learning a new skill to give their brain a rest before making a big leap forward. You may notice your child stutters more when she's tired, excited, or upset. Most kids outgrow it without intervention by age 5, but if you notice it gets worse talk to your child's doctor sooner than later.
What you can do
Reading to your child is a great way to boost his language skills. Books help a child add words to his vocabulary, make sense of grammar, and link meanings to pictures, says Desmond Kelly, a developmental-behavioral pediatrician who works with children who have learning and language difficulties at the All Kinds of Minds Institute in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
Likewise, simply talking with your child helps. Many parents find mealtimes and bedtime are a great opportunity to touch base. These may be the only pauses in a busy day when you have a chance to chat with and really listen to your kids.
When your preschooler doesn't know the word for something, he'll probably ask, "What's this?" That's your cue for helping him expand his vocabulary, even introducing words that he may not have asked for. For instance, if he points to the garden and says, "pretty flowers," you could describe them to him: "It's the pink and white roses that smell so nice."
You can also help him find words to describe objects and ideas he can't see. For instance, if he's trying to tell you about a nightmare involving a witch, ask him whether the witch is wicked or kind. Then have him describe what she wears, what she does, and whether she's good at riding a broomstick. This word game can serve two purposes: Your child can express his feelings and fears as well as increase his vocabulary.
Your preschooler may still get stumped by pronouns, such as "I," "me," and "mine." While the words are easy to say, the ideas behind them can be hard for a youngster to grasp. So resist the urge to correct your child's speech when he misuses a pronoun.
Instead, model the correct use of these tricky words in your own speech. For instance, say: "I would like your help" instead of "Mama would like your help."
What to watch out for
If your child doesn't talk, says few words, and doesn't seem interested in communicating or expressing her feelings, seek help. A child who pauses frequently, constantly struggles to get words out, or simply gives up and says "never mind" a lot is also letting you know something is wrong.
Other things to watch for include:
- A 2-year-old who doesn't use two-word phrases or copy actions and words
- A 3-year-old who doesn't speak in sentences, doesn't understand simple instructions, or has very unclear speech
- A 4-year-old who doesn't use "me" and "you" correctly, can't retell her favorite story, doesn't speak clearly, or isn't able to follow a three-part command
- A preschooler who drools when she mispronounces words may have a physical component to her speech difficulties
- A child who has a history of ear infections along with pronunciation problems may have some hearing loss.
Early intervention is critical when your child has a speech, hearing, language, or developmental problem that affects her ability to communicate. In each of these cases, talk with your child's doctor and with her teacher if she's in preschool.
Her teacher may refer you to an early speech and language intervention program, which is usually coordinated through the county or public school system, to provide a free speech and language screening. Or her doctor can refer you to a private speech-language pathologist for an evaluation.
Children in kindergarten speak in smooth sentences, and words pop out easily with no apparent effort. At this age your child should also be able to comfortably tell you what happened, describe people, and ask questions clearly. He'll make up stories, explain what you do with common objects, and recount events that took place in the past with accurate detail. At school, he'll start to figure out the finer points of grammar, punctuation, and word usage.