Language Milestones for Preschool-Aged Children

Language encompasses the way in which we produce ideas (expression), understand concepts (comprehension) and use the social 3 year old boyrules for communication (pragmatics). Preschool years are a critical time for a child’s speech and language development. Children are rapidly acquiring new skills, therefore, parents may start to wonder if their child is meeting developmental milestones. Difficulties in language skills and concepts can have long-term implications of a child’s ability to succeed during school-age years. The milestones listed below are intended as a general trajectory that many children tend to follow; however, many will find that there is some variability between stages.

Language Milestones

Two to Three Years Old:

  • Opposites: children will begin to understand differences between words such as “go/stop”, “big/little” and “up/down”
  • Directions: children will begin to follow simple two-step requests (e.g., “get your shoes and put them on”)
  • Stories: children will want to hear more stories and may make ask parents to read books to them
  • Requests: children may begin to name objects when requesting (e.g., “I want juice”)

Three to Four Years Old:

  • Story-telling: children will start to tell more stories, often explaining what happened at school
  • Questions: children will begin to answer simple “wh” questions, including: “who”, “what” and “where”
  • Sentences: children may start to string 4 or more words together, creating more complex sentences

Four to Five Years Old:

  • Understanding: children can be expected to understand most requests made by
    parents (e.g., “clean your room”)
  • Reading: children may answer questions posed by parents during book reading (e.g., “what did the caterpillar eat on Monday?”)
  • Identification: children may start to recognize letters and numbers
  • Grammar: children will start to use age-appropriate grammar (e.g., plurals, past tense, pronouns)
  • Describes: children will begin to use more descriptive words when speaking (e.g., “the smaller shoes are mine”)

Preschool years are such an exciting time for children’s development. Children begin to blossom academically, socially and emotionally. If you have questions, concerns or suspect that your child may not meet all of these milestones, a licensed speech-language pathologist may be able to help!

Click here to download a free copy of the 3 Year Old Milestone Guide covering Speech, Fine and gross Motor, Behavior, Social/emotional and more!