Updated: Jul 8, 2021
From birth to 7 years of age, children's minds are rapidly growing and taking in important language information. Each day is full of new lessons and discoveries they don't even realize they're learning – and you might not notice it either! But by taking a step back to look at the big picture, parents can assess how their child's language has progressed and how they compare to the typical milestones for their age.
Here, we've put together a list of research-based norms for 4-year-olds which you can make note of:
A Typical 4 Year Old:
Talks about picture books
Mostly grammatically correct conversation
Uses more negatives (i.e. "shouldn't"; "can't")
Adapts to changes of topic
Understands plural vs. singular
Participates in word play/jokes
Asks "How/How much" questions
Uses articles 'a' and 'the' to describe things
Reports on past events
Creates imaginary roles
Uses irregular and regular past tense (i.e. "She ran"; "He jumped")
Uses more pronouns (i.e. its, theirs)
Has speech sounds 'p', 'b', 'd', 'm', 'n', 'h', 'w', 'k', 'g', 't', 'ing', 'f', 'y',
Working on sounds 'l', 'r', 's', 'ch', 'sh', 'z'
Uses intonation properly
Understands difference between past/present/future
Answers/asks more complex questions (i.e. "Why-", "What if...")
If you'd like to see these milestones in action, you can check out this video we created:
If you're interested in watching how speech and language progresses with age, you can also check out our full video series that documents typical development of children ages 1-5 or read about it on our blog post here.
It's important to remember that everyone is different and a lot of factors can determine how quickly children reach each milestone and develop confident speech. However, these videos can be used as a tool to gauge how your children are progressing based on the 'norms' of kids their age. So, if you notice a delay in your child's speech compared to what you see in our videos, or if you think they could be struggling with a speech impediment, don't be afraid to get in contact with a Speech-Language Pathologist to evaluate if they would benefit from speech therapy.
Cochlear Limited. (2009). Integrated scales of development. Retrieved from: https://2ears2hear.files.wordpress.com/2012/09/product_cochlearimplant_rehabilitationresources_earlyintervention_integratedscalesofdevelopmentfromlistenlearnandtalk_en_612kb.pdf
Dosman, C. F., Andrews, D., & Goulden, K. J. (2012). Evidence-based milestone ages as a framework for developmental surveillance. Paediatrics & child health, 17(10), 561-568.
Lanza, J. R., & Flahive, L. K. (2009). LinguiSystems guide to communication milestones. East Moline, IL: LinguSystems.
Learning Disabilities Association of America. Learning Disabilities Online – LD-Indepth: “Speech and Language Milestone Chart” www.ldonline.org/ld_indepth/speech-language/lda_milestones.html
McLeod, S., & Crowe, K. (2018). Children's Consonant Acquisition in 27 Languages: A Cross-Linguistic Review. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 27(4), 1546-1571.
Andalusia Speech Therapy has multiple clinics across Ontario and offers virtual therapy to clients anywhere in the world. Contact us more for information.