3 to 4 Years
- Begin to use “I” instead of “me”
- May sometimes use “him” instead of “he”, “her” instead of “she”, “them” instead of “they.” (“Him going to my house.”)
- Sometimes repeat or stumble over words
- Recite simple rhymes and songs
- Add “s” to words to form plurals (balls)
- Use the following sounds: b, p, m, w, h, t, d, n
- Follow an unrelated command such as “Turn on the T.V., then put your bike in the garage
- Name circle and square
- Identify at least 2 or 3 colors by name
- Teach your child the relationship between words, objects and ideas. Talk about how they are alike and different. Here are examples: “This block is bigger than that one. Here are two pencils; the yellow one is skinny and the green one is fat.”
- Take turns naming things you see. Name things your child sees and encourage her to do the same. Ask your child the names of familiar objects. Don’t criticize her if she misses a name. For example, if your child says the following about a match, “That’s a fire,” you can respond, “Yes, it makes fire, it’s called a match.”
- Let your child participate in household activities. He can help wash windows, set the table, dust, sweep, or wipe unbreakable dishes. Take these opportunities to talk to your child to increase his vocabulary. For example: “This plate is round.” “The knife is next to the spoon.” “The napkin goes under the silverware.” “Wash the top (bottom) of the window.”
- Help your child learn correct grammar by using the words that she has said incorrectly and repeating or rephrasing them in your own speech with the error corrected. For example, if your child says “Me no want that,” or “Her is pretty,” you can respond with “You don’t want that….I don’t want that either,” or “Yes, she is pretty.”
- Give your child practice in sorting things. Let her sort silverware by putting it back in the drawer and point out to her that the forks, knives, and spoons go together. Sorting laundry also offers many opportunities for grouping things into piles such as whites and colors, towels and socks, etc. Be sure to explain to your child what you are doing. Other categories include:
- Color: buttons, blocks
- Size: Daddy’s socks and child’s socks
- Appearance: different types of noodles
- Allow your child to wear old clothes and play “grown-up.” This is a good way to encourage imaginative play skills.
- Point out to your child things that are the same and different. Be specific when describing what is the same. For example, say “These shirts are the same color” or “These are the same size.”
- This is the age when many stuttering-like behaviors occur. DON’T PANIC. Many nonfluencies are normal, some are not. The two most important things you can do are 1) listen to your child; 2) observe when and where the stuttering is worse. If you have questions, or if the stuttering continues, you may wish to contact a speech-language pathologist in your area.
- Good health is very important, even for speech. Make sure your child is eating properly and getting enough rest.
- Accept your child’s nonfluencies. Do not criticize or imply that you think her “stuttering” is wrong or just a bad habit.
- Encourage your child to be independent and carry out her own ideas.
- Provide an effective model. You can speak more calmly, slowly, simply, and rhythmically yourself.
- Give your child time to talk. Listen to him. Let him complete his thoughts. Don’t fill in words for him – – give him the chance.
- Let your actions help provide a tension-free, relaxed setting. If you are rushing around the house, cooking, cleaning, and setting the table, you are not providing a relaxed atmosphere. Try to stop your activity and listen.
- Although it is positive to reward your child for fluent speech, be careful not to punish her for difficult moments.
- Recognize tensions and stress situations which make fluent speech difficult for your child. Do not force your child to talk in these situations, but give her the opportunity to talk if she wants. For example, it may be very stressful for your child to talk to new adults, so don’t force her to “show off” by speaking or reciting.
- Care about what your child says.
4 to 5 Years
- Answer simple “when” and “why” questions correctly (“When do you eat breakfast?” “Why do you wear your coat?”)
- Tell about a recent experience
- Sort objects by shape, color, and function (things we eat, wear, play with)
- Verbalize opposites (hot, cold) and comparatives (big, bigger, biggest)
- Understand yesterday, today and tomorrow
- Be understood most of the time by strangers
- Understand most of what the parent says
- Begin to self-correct when sounds are mispronounced
- Sometimes have difficulty with the following sounds: ch, f, j, l, r, s, sh, th, and v
- Take a “talk-walk” to help your child learn how to put words together correctly in sentences. Describe and tell all you know about the things around you: “I see a big tree. Look, it has a rough, brown trunk. This is called bark. See, there’s a nest way up there on that branch.” Encourage your child to describe what he sees.
- Put a few small toys in small bag or box. Have your child remove a toy and tell him where to place it. Use words that describe WHERE such as: under, over, in, out, around, through, between, beside, behind, above, below. When he understands the words and can follow the directions correctly, then you place the toy somewhere and ask him to tell you where it is.
- To help your child understand the order of things happening, look through pictures in children’s books. Talk about what happens first, next, and last. Discuss action that has taken place and what might happen next. Let your child retell the story to you.
- Look through magazines with your child and cut out pictures that are related, such as baby and mother, fork and plate, cow and barn, comb and brush. Spread the pictures on a table, pick one up and ask, “Can you find a picture that goes with this one?” Then talk about why they go together. “Why does the hammer go with the nail? Right. You use the hammer to pound in the nail.”
- Help your child understand numbers by counting anything she sees around her: people, cars, chairs, etc. Number recognition can be improved by calling her attention to numbers on houses, road signs, price signs at stores and license plates
- Help your child learn to count objects by stringing Cheerios or Fruit Loops. Choose a number from 1-10 and ask your child to string a certain number of cereal pieces, (“Put on five Cheerios.”) Help her to count them out correctly.
- Give your child a box of crayons and see how many colors he can identify by name. Have him pick out objects or pieces of clothing to match a color. Help him find all the things in the room that are red, blue, etc.
- Assemble a “junk box.” Blindfold your child and have him take one object out of the box. While still blindfolded, have him describe how the object feels (hard-soft, rough-smooth, round-sharp). See if he can guess what it is. Then remove the blindfold and ask him to tell you how the object looks (color, size, shape), what it is used for, where you would buy it, what it is made of, etc.
- Additional activities include blindfolding your child and asking him how food tastes or smells. See if he can guess what it is. Other suggestions for smelling include lemon juice, perfume, paint, magic markers, onions, oranges, coffee.
- Ask your child to think of things people can wear, eat, drink, play with or drive.
- Point out opposite concepts to your child. For example: “The refrigerator is cold, the stove is hot.” “This man is short, that one is tall.”
- Point out comparisons to your child such as big, bigger, biggest or soft, softer, softest.
- Make your child aware of why things are done. Examples of questions and answers that may be discussed include: “Why do we wear coats? We have coats to keep us warm. When it’s cold outside, we put them on.”
- Provide a good model when your child mispronounces a word. Do not imply that he is doing anything wrong, but say the word correctly for him. Exaggerate the error sound correctly. Child: “I hurt my fum” Parent: “You hurt your thumb.” Praise your child for an attempt to say the word correctly.
- Help your child to understand the time concepts of yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Talk about things you did yesterday, are doing today, and will be doing tomorrow.
5 to 6 Years
- Say sentences that are usually correct except for irregular parts of speech (“bited” for “bit,” “mouses” for “mice”)
- Know concept of time: before, after, now, later, yesterday, today, tomorrow
- Give a simple definition of a word
- Know right and left
- Remember and tell main ideas in short stories
- Follow a 3-part command such as “Close the door, pick up the ball, and sit down.”
- Count out 10 objects
- Name 8 colors
- Sometimes still experience difficulty with the following sounds: ch, j, l, r, s, sh, th, v
- Ask your child to “read” a familiar story to you. See if he can tell you the story by looking at the pictures. Also look at the comic strips in the newspaper and ask him to tell you what happened in each picture.
- See if your child knows the following body parts: eyebrow, eyelid, chin, shoulder, wrist, palm, waist, ankle, heel, chest, jaw, hip.
- Teach your child her right hand from her left hand. Put a small mark or tie a string on her right hand. Show the child her right and left leg, eyes, ears, and other body parts.
- Ask your child to help you set the table. Point out such things as: “The knife is on the right side of the plate. The fork is on the left. The spoon is next to the knife. You sit between Mom and Dad. Your glass is full of milk. My glass is almost empty. Whose glass has more milk in it? Who ate the most French fries? Which food is hot (or cold)?”
- Play “remembering” games such as: “Get your pencil, put it on the table, and sit down. Please put plates on the table, then knives, then spoons.”
- Play “Simon Says” or try using a different title such as “The Clown Says”.
- Help your child to recognize written numbers. Make number cards from recipe cards by printing one number from 1-10 on each card. Once she learns to recognize them, mix the cards and ask for them out of order.
- Ask your child to find certain numbers on the clock, turn the television to a certain channel, point to numbers on the telephone dial, etc.
- Teach your child to recognize his name. Use recipe cards to print the letters of your child’s name, writing one letter on each card. See if he can arrange the letter cards in correct order to spell his name.
- Draw a clock and talk about the numbers on it and how the hands move as time goes by. Discuss some of the things that she does “by the clock,” such as what time she gets up, what time she watches Sesame Street, what time Daddy or Mommy comes home from work etc. Talk about typical morning, afternoon, and night time activities such as eating breakfast in the morning or sleeping at night.
- Pantomime several different actions and ask your child to guess what you are doing. These are suggestions: combing hair, jumping rope, driving a car, eating an ice cream cone, riding a bike, using a telephone, drinking from a glass. Also ask your child to act out different things. She may need some help.
- Play a game in which your child is to anticipate the opposite concept. “I want you to stand up. Now I want you to _____________________.” “Run fast, now run______________________.” Other possibilities include: clap softly-loudly, push the chair-pull, touch something big little, and open your eyes close.
- Your child can learn to group things into categories by letting him sort your canned food in as many different ways as he can. First suggest some ways to sort them, then let him figure out other ways if he can. Possible groupings:
- Size: small, medium, large
- Color: yellow, red, green, etc.
- Kind: fruit, vegetable
- Weight: light, heavy
- Teach your child her address and mother and father’s name. Teach your child her full name.