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Milestones of speech, language and communication development: 4 - 5 years

Growing from a baby to a child requires achieving many milestones in language, physical, social, emotional and intellectual development. Most children develop skills in roughly the same order but the actual age a child reaches that milestone can vary considerably. Our child "Bill" has normal hearing. The 4 - 5 year period of development sees Bill becoming a confident speaker. He now has most of the speech sounds in his inventory, his expressive language contains up to 1500 words and he is 100% intelligible to everyone.

Speech and Auditory Awareness: 4 - 5 years

Bill is totally intelligible to everyone now, he has most sounds and clusters perfected - m  n  p  b  t  d  w  ng  k  g  h  f  s  y  v  z  l  r  sh  ch  j  th  sp  st  sk  sl  sm  sn  sw  tr  gr  br  pr  cr  fl  bl  pl  gl .

Some of Bill's friends are still having difficulty with r and l, but many children of this age take a little longer to acquire these sounds.

Bill only gets tripped up on longer clusters spr  str  scr  spl, and some clusters in the middle and end of words are still being reduced occasionally.

Bill is using 1500 plus words now and his rate, rhythm, intonation and volume are all normal.

Bill's auditory memory can now hold and repeat back 3 to 4 digits.

Expressive Language and semantics (content): 4 - 5 years

Bill is using up to 1500 words and his utterances are longer and more complex, containing more complicated syntax and concepts (see Morphology and syntax sections).

Bill uses past tenses correctly and adjectives, pronouns and prepositions are all part of his everyday language. His use of plurals are consistent, both irregular and regular.

Social use of Language (use and pragmatics): 4 - 5 years

Bill knows and understands the conventions of simple conversations e.g., turn taking, topic maintenance, and is aware when he is breaking them.

His confidence continues to grow and he speaks without avoidance or embarrassment. He is confident on the telephone and has an awareness of other capabilities, modifying his speech to the age of the listener.

Receptive language (comprehension, perceiving and understanding) and cognition: 4 - 5 years

Bill is now understanding up to 2000 words. Bill is also developing another important skill, he has metalinguistic awareness, that is, he is able to think about and comment on what he (and others) are saying.

His understanding and thought processes continue to develop and his comprehension is now at a point where he can follow and process instructions containing 4+ information carrying words, or an 8 word sentence. He can follow 3-step commands when items/objects are not present. His story retell capabilities increase and he can retell a story from memory using 5 sentences. Bill can hold a message in his head and deliver it to another person.

Bill is learning to count, and can count objects to 4 or 5. He can sequence 3+ pictures and understands opposite concepts. He can name the primary colours on request and identifies crosses, triangles, circles, and squares, and makes comparisons of speed and weight.

His imagination is now feeding into his speech and he speaks of imaginary conditions with "pretend" or "I hope."

He can focus on a single activity for 11-12 minutes and he helps plan activities. His understanding of time concepts increases and he can follow language such as "early in the morning," "next month," "next year," "noontime" and the difference between past present and future, and day, morning, afternoon, night.

His awareness of concepts related to spatial arrangements, e.g., "in front of," "behind," "far," and "near" also increases.

Morphology and syntax (structure): 4 - 5 years

Bill's ability to comprehend complex sentences continues to increase. He is using 5-6 word sentences and he is using compound sentences combined with words such as "and," "but," "or," "so," and "because," e.g., "I'm four now but John is only three." He is also now able to use past and present progressive tenses accurately e.g., "I ate," "I am going...".

Gross and fine motor skills: 4 - 5 years

Bill is now learning to dance, skip and walk narrow line. He is agile and confident on his feet.

His fine motor skills are still developing and will continue to do for some time. He can copy a square, letters and draw a person and house in detail. Bill counts on his fingers, uses a knife and fork and undresses and dresses fully.

Additional reading

For more information on child development, and activities to develop speech and language skills visit the website Reproduced with permission.
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21-Jul-2023 4:48 PM (AEST)