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Early Intervention Speech Therapy

Normal Language for Children for Ages 3-5

Published February 19, 2013 9:06 AM by Stephanie Bruno-Dowling

This is week 7 of my 8 week series highlighting the hallmarks of typical speech and language development in young children. Today's post will explore what normal language and grammar looks and sounds like for preschoolers in the 3 to 5 age group.

For parents, knowing what "normal" development looks in babies, toddlers and young children will help you to recognize if your child is struggling. For additional information, review the posts from the last 6 weeks to see a full look at what typical speech and language development looks like during the early years. Today and next week's post expand the discussion from age 3 to ages 4 and 5, so that a complete overview of the early intervention timeline is represented throughout the 8 weeks.

The Babycenter website shares that " preschoolers pick up grammar rules, they tend to apply them in all cases. This is called over-regularization. For instance, they're learning that they need to add "ed" to make the past tense, so they add it to all verbs. Instead of "I went to the store," they'll say, "I goed to the store." More examples: "I winned." "She fallded down."

Babycenter also discusses that "Pronouns are another tricky spot" and three year olds may get them confused saying sentences such as "Her stayed at my house today."  This is a normal aspect of language development at this age and would not be considered a delay or disorder unless it persists. During the year from 3 to 4, children begin to use made up silly words in order to make others laugh, they love hearing and telling stories and their ability to talk and play with other children magnifies and develops. For more information about this year of development, refer to my post from last week Normal Speech and Language Growth: Ages 3-4.

The Babycenter website also provides a nice detailed list of speech and language skills for typically developing 4 year old children:

  • Four-year-olds learn as many as four to six new words every day.
  • Sentences are longer and more complex, containing multiple clauses as well as adverbs and adjectives.
  • Four-year-olds can reason out hypothetical situations such as, "If this happened, what would you do?"
  • They're learning to define the meaning of words and grasp the idea of opposites.
  • They're more proficient storytellers and can relay tales with a beginning, middle, and end.
  • Your child may now be able to adapt her speech to the situation at hand. She may say, "Mommy go bye-bye" to a younger child, compared with "Mom went to the store for milk" when talking to Grandma.
  • Your child is also better able to follow multiple steps: "First cut on this line. Then glue the paper here." Following two or more unrelated directions is another development: "Please bring me my purse and then give the dog some water."
  • You'll notice improvement in pronunciation and grammar, although speech still isn't error-free. Four-year-olds should be understood by strangers essentially all the time, although some sounds are still not perfect.


Join me next week for the final post in my

Normal Speech and Language Development in Young Children Series!


What's on the blog radar for SPRING 2013???

Speech and Language RED FLAGS for parents of Young Children

Paperwork Issues in the Workplace

New therapy resources for those working in Early Intervention

Best Practice Therapies for Speech and Language Delays/Disorders


Are there other topics you would like to see discussed on this blog?

Please write in and share your ideas!


This week's post is the final in my 8-week series highlighting typical speech and language development

February 26, 2013 11:03 AM

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About this Blog

    Stephanie Bruno Dowling, M.S. CCC-SLP
    Occupation: Speech-Language Pathologist
    Setting: Early Intervention in Delaware County, PA
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