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Milestones of speech, language and communication development: 30 – 36 months

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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.During the 30 – 36 month period of development Bill’s expressive language continues to increase at a rapid rate and he is now using verbs, adjectives, prepositions and pronouns. He can now understand and follow a requests at a 3-word level.

Speech and auditory awareness: 30 – 36 months

Bill’s speech continues to develop and he now has m n p b t d w ng k g h y in his sound inventory and is starting to use f and s, although these sounds may still be stopped (replaced with a plosive sound e.g. “sun” becomes “tun”). Other common substitutions will be to replace th with f and r with w. Some sound combinations are still difficult for him including clusters ( st, pl, tr etc) and he will often just shorten these to 1 sound, and medial sounds may still occasionally be omitted .

His speech is now so clear that strangers understand him 75% of the time. He is also using more stress and intonation correctly in his words, although he may still omit some parts of less stressed speech.

Bill will now listen more from a distance and his auditory memory can hold 2-3 items in different linguistic contexts.

Expressive language and semantics (content): 30 – 36 months

Bill is now using around 450 words and combining nouns, verbs, and adjectives (big / little) and in 3 word sentences. He regularly uses prepositions in/on/under, personal pronouns you/me/he/she/they/we and knows gender vocabulary. Bill is also beginning to form plurals and putting -ing endings on verbs.

Now that Bill can put more words together he is asking more questions. He is able to recite common nursery rhymes, name 3 or more colours and can give his first and last name.

Social use of language (use and pragmatics): 30 – 36 months

Verbal language is now Bill’s primary means of expression and speech has become a social tool and will often ask permission before he does things. Bill can also express how he feels about a situation. He is now able to have 2 to 3 exchanges with a listener and he is keen to talk about immediate experiences, as well as things that have happened before.

At play is more keen to share objects and toys generally, but he may also talk to himself during play.

Receptive language (comprehension, perceiving and understanding) and cognition: 30 – 36 months

Bill is comprehending commands at a 3-word level and language of more complexity. He is also able to identify objects by use, e.g. “Which one do we drink out of? Sleep in? Sit on?”. He understands the concept of “one” and “one more” and matches colours and shapes, and objects to pictures. As Bill’s knowledge of concepts are developing he is learning how to sort, sequence (completes 3 piece interlocking puzzle), categorise and attempting simple counting. Bill’s awareness of time is also developing and he understands today, yesterday, tomorrow.

Morphology and syntax (structure): 30 – 36 months

Bill is now using three word sentences (and occasionally 4-word) and his understanding of more complex sentences continues to develop e.g. he understands instructions involving pronouns, e.g. “I want a cup.” “Show me my cup,” “your cup,” “mine”.

He is asks simple questions “What doing?” as well as answering “Who,” “What”, “Where” and “Why” questions. Bill is also beginning to form plurals and putting -ing endings on verbs.

Bill is also using:
Negation – “no, don’t”
Pronouns – “he/she/they/we/you/me”
Some plurals
Possessives – “mine, yours, mummy’s hat”
More negatives – “not/none/nobody”
Beginning to use conjunctions – “and/because”

Gross and fine motor skills: 30 – 36 months

Bill can now walk up the stairs on alternate feet and is becoming quite an agile climber. He can run and walk on tiptoe, and run and avoid objects.

His fine motor skills are also developing further and he can now take off and put on most of his clothes, but still has a few problems with buttons. At kindergarten he is now copying a cross and drawing a body with head and one other body part. He is also cutting with scissors.

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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