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Development Stages

Development Stages

Toddlers

toddlerChildren between the ages of 1-4 typically develop speech and language skills at a rapid pace but there is great variation of development at this time.

Speech (Articulation)

Infants can be heard to use a wide variety of sounds when they babble. Slowly the sounds become more recognisable and begin the formation of first words. By the time a child reaches their second birthday 70% of sounds are correct and 50% of a child’s speech is understood by adults. By 3 years of age a child can produce speech that is understood 75% of the time!

Language

Language is also growing! This begins with the understanding of 50 – 100 words and simple instructions by 1½ years and expanding quickly after this. At the same time we see the appearance of first spoken words between the ages of 1-1½ years. We would expect to see the first 50 words achieved during this period with the emergence of joining words together to make short sentences. As the child gets older more words are acquired and sentences get longer with the use of grammatical structures and more complex sentences. By 3 years of age a toddler is usually able to express themselves, with a range of ideas and grammatical structures used correctly and clearly

Concerns

Parents may well be concerned if this development seems slower than expected. For example, if a child exhibits the following:

  • Range of sounds during babble is reduced during infancy
  • No real interest in communicating with others
  • Not understanding simple words and instructions
  • Reduced appearance of words (i.e. less than 100 words by 2 years of age)
  • Use of only single words by 2 years of age
  • Speech is difficult to understand by others

At this time assistance should be sought!

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Pre-school children

The pre-school child has built upon early skills and now acquires many additional speech and language skills.

Speech (Articulation)

By the age of 4 years, speech should be understood by most adults with some minor sound error and substitutions still occurring.

Language

Understanding of language is growing, with pre-schoolers able to follow conversations and express their views. Vocabulary is growing at a rapid pace with a wide variety of word types in the range of 1500 words being used by this stage. Basic sentence structure is now able to be used appropriately with minor errors in grammar still expected.

Concerns

Parents may well be concerned if this development seems slower than expected. For example, if a child exhibits the following:

  • Interest in communicating and interacting with others is reduced
  • Understanding of words, sentences and directions is difficult
  • Vocabulary development has not progressed
  • Sentences are simple and grammar is not well developed
  • Speech is not easily understood by others
  • Communication attempts are disrupted by stuttering

At this time assistance should be sought!

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Junior Primary School Aged Children

boyLanguage development continues into the junior levels of school with increasingly expanding skills to enable them to cope with the challenges of acquiring new skills such as reading and writing.

Speech (Articulation)

Children commencing school should be 100% intelligible with some minor articulation substitutions and distortions still expected. They should be easily understood by both familiar and unfamiliar listeners. The sounds typically still used incorrectly at this time are /s/, /r/, /l/ and /th/ – with all other speech sounds being produced correctly.

Language

Language has continued to grow! Children who commence school are typically using a wide range of words and sentence structures and can readily converse with both peers and adults. Vocabulary now includes a vast array of word types and functions. Sentence structure and grammar is typically correct with some minor errors in tense and conjunctions still noted. However, sentences should be complex and used correctly to convey a broad range of messages and stories. Children can now tell a story with appropriate story grammar (who, what, why, when) and can sequence their ideas. Children at this age demonstrate an understanding of sounds within words (phonemic and phonological awareness) and this provides skills for early reading, spelling and writing.

Concerns

Parents may well be concerned if this development seems slower than expected. For example, if a child exhibits the following:

  • Difficulty in communicating and interacting with peers and adults
  • Understanding of words, sentences and directions is reduced
  • Vocabulary development has not progressed
  • Sentences are simple and grammar is not well developed
  • Speech is not easily understood by others
  • Communication attempts are disrupted by stuttering behaviours (repetition, blocking or elongation of sounds within words)
  • Acquisition of early literacy (reading and writing) and numeracy (maths) skills is problematic and reported by the school as being below grade level expectations
  • A lack of interest in learning
  • Inability to maintain attention and concentration on learning tasks

At this time assistance should be sought!

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Senior Primary School Aged Children

girlsLanguage skills become increasingly important as a child progresses into the senior years of primary school. Learning continues to rely upon the ability to listen and understand spoken language as well as the ability to express ideas in a sequenced and logical narrative. These skills are then used to develop more complex reading and writing abilities.

Language

Language has continued to grow! Vocabulary now includes a broad variety of word types and functions. Ongoing vocabulary development begins to rely upon reading a range of book genres to expose the child to different word types. Sentence structure and grammar is typically complex, with narratives being longer and appropriately sequenced. The development of oral language skills has provided the foundation for the development of academic abilities

Concerns

Parents may well be concerned if this development seems slower than expected. For example, if a child exhibits the following:

  • Understanding of spoken language is limited
  • Recall and remembering information and instructions is problematic
  • Vocabulary development has not progressed beyond conversational words
  • Sentences lack complexity and story sequences are confused
  • Communication attempts are disrupted by stuttering behaviours (repetition, blocking or elongation of sounds within words)
  • Acquisition of literacy (reading and writing) and numeracy (maths) skills are not at grade level benchmarks
  • A lack of interest in learning continues to influence both school and homework activities
  • Inability to maintain attention and concentration on learning tasks has been noted by the school as an area of concern
  • Behavioural problems are exhibited within learning context

At this time assistance should be sought!

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Secondary School Aged Children

boyandgirl

Language

By the time a child is ready to commence secondary school he or she will have usually acquired a broad range of complex language skills (both oral and written) that enable them to cope with the curriculum requirements.

Concerns

Parents may well be concerned if this development seems slower than expected. For example, if a child exhibits the following:

  • Comprehension and recall of verbal information is reduced
  • Oral and written expression lacks a broad range of vocabulary types
  • Sentence structures lack complexity and rely upon similar and basic grammatical structures
  • Answers questions (verbally or written) but content is limited and lacks detail
  • Difficulties in managing school routines and tasks such as homework
  • Struggles with planning and organising tasks
  • May not initiate or participate in classroom discussions
  • Doesn’t pick up non-verbal communications
  • Behavioural difficulties including impulsivity, decreased motivation, requiring frequent assistance to commence and complete tasks
  • Difficulties in following instructions and directions

At this time assistance should be sought!

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