Language and speech development can vary from child to child, however most children will achieve their communication milestones within clearly defined timeframes. The following outlines when and how children develop their communication skills.
These milestones were developed by Speech Pathology Australia in 2017 to help early childhood educators and families to learn about the different ages and stages of a child’s development. It can be used to help identify children who may be experiencing difficulties with their communication skills. Early identification and intervention is best as it leads to better outcomes for children.
If you are concerned about how your child is developing their speech, language and literacy skills, please feel free to contact our therapists at SMART Spot.
• understand about 10 words
• respond to their name
• recognise greetings and gestures,
such as ‘hi’ and ‘bye-bye’
• recognise a few familiar people
and objects (e.g., mummy, blankie,
• make eye contact.
• start to use sounds, gestures, and say a few words
• continue to babble
• copy different sounds and noises.
understand up to 50 words and some short phrases
• follow simple instructions (e.g., ‘throw the ball’)
• point to familiar objects when named
• point to some pictures in familiar books.
• say 6 to 20 single words – some easier to understand than others, but becoming more consistent
• copy lots of words and noises
• name a few body parts
• use objects in pretend play
(e.g., hold toy phone to their ear and say ‘hello?’).
• follow simple two part instructions (e.g., ‘give me the ball and the car’)
• respond to simple wh-questions, such as ‘what’ and ‘where’
• point to several body parts and pictures in books when named
• understand when an object is ‘in’ and ‘on’ something.
• say more than 50 single words
• put two words together (e.g., ‘bye teddy’,
• use their tone of voice to ask a question
• say ‘no’ when they do not want something
• use most vowel sounds and a variety of
consonants (m, n, p, b, k, g, h, w, t, d)
• start to use ‘mine’ and ‘my’.
follow more complex two part instructions (e.g., give me the teddy and throw the ball)
understand simple wh-questions, such as ‘what’, ‘where’ and ‘who’
sort items into groups when asked (e.g., toys vs food)
recognise some basic colours.
say four to five words in a sentence
use a variety of words for names, actions, locations and descriptions
ask questions using ‘what’, ‘where’ and ‘who’
talk about something in the past, but may use ‘-ed’ a lot (e.g., ‘he goed
have a conversation, but may not take turns or stay on topic.
answer most questions about daily tasks
• understand most wh-questions, including those about a story they have recently heard
understand some numbers
show an awareness that some words start or finish with the same sound.
uses words, such as ‘and’, ‘but’ and ‘because’, to make longer sentences
• describe recent events, such as morning routines
• ask lots of questions
• use personal pronouns (e.g.,
he/she, me/you) and negations
• count to five and name a few
Follow three part instructions (e.g., put on your shoes, get your backpack and line up outside)
• understand time related words (e.g., ‘before’, ‘after’, ‘now’ and ‘later’)
• start thinking about the meaning of words when learning
• understand instructions without stopping to listen
• begin to recognise some letters, sounds and numbers.
• use well formed sentences to be understood by most people
• take turns in increasingly longer conversations
• tell simple, short stories with a beginning, middle and end
• use past and future verbs correctly (e.g., ‘went’, ‘will go’)
• use most speech sounds, but still may have difficulties with ‘s’, ‘r’, ‘l’ and ‘th’.