3 to 5 Year Olds Speech Therapy

3 to 5 Year Olds Speech Therapy

Fast paced speech and language development continues at this most exciting stage of communication development. Children range now from generally speaking in complete sentences such as ‘the children fed the horse’, to complex sentences such as ‘she doesn’t swim when it is cold and when the wind blows’.

Between 3 – 3 ½ years of age children are connecting and co-ordinating many ideas in a single sentence. This shows how far children have developed in just a few short years. What’s more, their articulation is becoming clearer!

By 4 years of age, a child’s speech should be easily intelligible even to an unfamiliar listener. They are producing all sounds at the ends of words and many long sounds such as ‘f’, ‘s’, ‘sh’, ‘ch’. They can understand longer and more complex instructions and directions and readily engage in a two-way conversation by expressing ideas, thoughts, requests and demands!

Between 3 – 4 years of age children rapidly increase their vocabulary to approximately 1500 words, and they strengthen their progress by utilising many grammatical components such as pronouns (he, she, her, his), word endings (‘ing’, ‘ed’, ‘ly’), plurals (‘cats’), adjectives (‘dirty’, ‘hungry’), past tense verbs (‘walked’), and some small verbs (‘is’, ‘are’, ‘have’).

By 5 years of age their grammatical competence is generally completed. Comparatives and superlatives (‘er’ and ‘est’) as well as complex verbs such as ‘love’ and ‘decided’ are used. Many other complex parts of language are used. “Discourse” now develops and complex conversations are now evident. Language should have connectivity of sentences to support story telling skills (The Hanen Centre, 2011).

These 5 year olds have a great foundation of their ‘first’ (oral) language to give them the best start for the development of their ‘second’ (written) language (reading, writing, spelling) as they embark on their first year of school!

Does my child need to see a Speech Pathologist?

  • Is your child using less than 3-4 word phrases at age 3 years?
  • Is your child’s speech difficult to understand?
  • Does your child leave out small words when saying sentences at age 4 years?
  • Do you suspect your child may be stuttering?
  • Does your child have difficulty understanding what is said to him/her?
  • Is your child frustrated when trying to communicate?
  • Are you becoming concerned?

If you answered “yes” to any of the above, an assessment by a certified practicing speech pathologist with paediatric experience is highly recommended.


The Hanen Centre. (2011). When Should you Seek Help? [Fact sheet]. Retrieved from http://www.hanen.org/Helpful-Info/What-Parents-Need-to-Know/Warning-Signs.aspx