Speech is the ability to use and coordinate your lips, tongue and mouth to make sounds. Children learn to use these sounds and how to put them together in words.
They develop from the time a child starts using words until the early years at school.
Speech Sound Development
Speech Pathologists are often asked questions about the typical age of speech sound development. Children acquire sounds in a specific order at certain ages.
Most children develop the following sounds at the ages below:
- 3 years old – /m, n, p, b, ng, w, h, d, t, y, g, k, f/
- 4-5 years old – /f, l, sh, ch, s, z, j/ and sound clusters e.g. /sl, sn, bl/
- 6 years old – /r, l, v/
- 8 years old – /th/
Some children can have trouble saying sounds clearly which might make them hard to understand. Children’s speech generally gets easier to understand as they get older.
While children develop at individual rates, there is a general pattern to children’s sound development. The following ages are based on percentages of speech typically understood by family members:
- 5 years old – 25% of speech is understood
- 2-3 years old – 50% of speech is understood
- 4 years old – 100% of speech is understood
Speech Sound Difficulties
Speech difficulties may be present when children have persistent difficulties saying words or sounds correctly. A speech sound delay is when sound errors or substitutions that are typical in development are occurring later than expected. A speech disorder describes errors that occur that are unusual sound errors or error patterns.
Speech delays can affect a child’s communication in many environments, their confidence, and interactions with peers, teachers and family. As children reach school-age, speech delays can impact their ability to learn to read and write.
It is important to seek advice from a Speech Pathologist if you are concerned about your child’s speech as it is essential to begin intervention as soon as possible.
How can I help my child?
There are many strategies to assist your child in developing their speech.
- Show your child that you are interested in what they say, not how they say it.
- Provide lots of modelling – watching or hearing someone demonstrate a new skill is very important to learning.
- Get face to face with them so that they can watch the way you say words
- Use technology, games and their hobbies. This is particularly beneficial to older children to increase their motivation to learn and also improve retainment of the skill.
If you have any concerns about your child’s speech sound development, please do not hesitate to call Harrison Speech Pathology and speak directly to one of our trained therapists.