Development of Communication Skills

speech-pathology-22Children spend the first five years of their lives becoming experts in communication.

This involves the following six key areas:

  • Understanding language
  • Expressing thoughts and emotions Articulating speech sounds clearly
  • Speaking fluently
  • Voice quality
  • Social skills

Communication development from birth to 12 months:

  • responds when name is called
  • listens when spoken to
  • recognises words and names for familiar items and people
  • uses gestures to communicate
  • understands simple requests and commands
  • learns to repeat sounds and experiments with early speech sounds
  • by 12 months uses made up words (jargon) and begins to attempt first real words
  • responds to simple questions with yes/no (including nodding or shaking head)

Communication development from 12 months to 2 years:

  • comprehends around 300 words
  • is aware of his/her environment and of daily routines
  • follows 2-part commands
  • has a range of vocabulary of at least 50 words
  • begins to form two-word phrases
  • enjoys listening to simple stories and rhymes
  • use of jargon (made up words) decreases and mostly uses real words
  • moves from solitary play to playing alongside another child

Communication development from 2 to 3 years:

  • understands most things said to him/her
  • understands basic location words including ‘on’ and ‘under’
  • matches colours and shapes
  • correctly answers simple questions
  • rapid vocabulary growth: says about 250 words and understands about 700 words
  • sentences are 3 to 4 words long
  • begins to ask questions
  • starts to play cooperatively in small groups

Communication development from 3 to 4 years:

  • builds spoken vocabulary to about 900 words
  • follows 2-part directions talks in 4 to 6 word sentences
  • uses correct endings on words to represent different meanings e.g. two dogs, jumping, walked, Mum’s jumper
  • asks questions: Who? What? Where? When? Why?
  • uses a variety of speech sounds correctly (children may still have difficulty with sounds such as s, z, sh, ch, f, v, r, th)
  • speech can be understood by familiar adults

Communication development from 4 to 5 years:

  • follows 3-part directions
  • understands complex story structures
  • talks in longer sentences of 5 or more words
  • uses most grammar correctly able to answer most question types
  • uses words that show an emerging awareness of time and sequence e.g. yesterday, today, then, lunchtime, before, after
  • explains feelings and ideas
  • masters more difficult speech sounds (it is still acceptable to make errors when saying sh, ch, r, v, th)
  • speech can be understood by strangers