Topic: Education

A child’s early years are a very important time, especially when it comes to progressing through the many stages of speech development and communication.

Each child is unique and children can differ enormously in how quickly they reach language milestones. Some children will say their first word before they can crawl, while others are more thoughtful, speaking once they have mastered the correct grammar.

More often than not, differences in speech and language development is not worrying and most children catch-up, especially when reaching their first or second year in primary school.

To help you understand your child’s communication and language development, we’ve included a few of the major milestones.

0 – 12 months

By 12 months, children will:

  • Recognise when someone is talking and listen carefully to their voice.
  • Begin to ‘babble’, often holding conversations with adults through babbling strings of words, such as ‘ga-ga-ga’ or ‘no-no-no’.
  • Enjoy songs, rhymes and music.
  • Identify basic words, including ‘mummy’, ‘daddy’, ‘toys’, car’.

12 – 18 months

By 18 months, children will:

  • Start to understand simple actions or movements, such as ‘give me’.
  • Gesture and point at objects to show what they want, with words and sounds.
  • Begin to copy lots of gestures and words.
  • Use basic words, such as ‘cup’, ‘dog’ and ‘car’.

18 – 24 months

By 24 months, children will:

  • Create simple, short sentences with a few words, such as ‘bye bye’.
  • Listen and enjoy short, simple stories.
  • Understand between 200 and 500 words, and use 50 or more single words.
  • Use several sounds in the words, including p, b, t, d, m and w.

24 – 36 months

By 36 months, children will:

  • Ask lots of questions.
  • Use a wide range of sounds, but may find it difficult to say sh, ch, th and r.
  • Start to use simple plurals by adding ‘s’, for example ‘shoes’ or ‘cars’.
  • Remember short stories.
  • Use and understand up to 300 words.
  • Create longer sentences using four or five words.

36 months – 4 years

By 4 years old, children will:

  • Understand numbers, colours and time related words, including ‘three cats’, ‘blue bike’ and ‘yesterday’ and ‘today’.
  • Ask a wide variety of questions, including who, what, when, where and why.
  • Begin to use longer sentences and link sentences together.
  • Enjoy simple humour and jokes.
  • Describe events that have happened in the past, but may make small mistakes with past tense verbs, for example ‘runned’ rather than ’ran’.

4 – 5 years old

By 5 years old, children will:

  • Take part in and enjoy longer conversations.
  • Be able to engage in conversation, while also completing other tasks.
  • Understand complex language, including first, last, might and maybe and be able to discuss events in a sequence ‘first we went to the shop and then we went to the park’.
  • Use well-formed sentences however, they may struggle with some difficult grammar, for example ‘drawed’