Communication from Birth through the School Years

Your childs communication from Birth through the School years

 Language development

0-6 months

  • Turns towards a sound when they hear it.
  • Loud noises startle them.
  • Recognises your voice.
  • Look at you when you are talking to them.
  • Have different cries for different needs (tired, hungry, wet etc).
  • Make noises like coo’s or squeals.
  • Recognise your familiar voice, and will quieten at the sound of it if they are crying.
  • Recognise changes in your tone of voice.
  • By 6 months, recognises his own name.

6-12 months

  • Listen carefully and turn to someone talking from other side of room.
  • Look at you when you are speaking.
  • Start to understand words like ‘bye-bye’ and ‘up’ with a gesture for the word.
  • Starts to take turns in conversation such as babbling back to an adult.
  • Smiles at people who are smiling at them.
  • Enjoys action songs and rhyme.
  • Makes noises and points to get your attention.
  • Babbles strings of sounds.

 12-18 months

  • Start to understand words like bye-bye or ‘all gone’.
  • Makes sounds to get attention, to make needs known, or to refuse.
  • Gets excited when sung to.
  • Points to three body parts when asked.
  • Starts to understand a few simple words ‘drinks’, ‘shoe’, ‘car’.
  • Uses at least 20 – 50 words consistently; words do not have to be very clear.
  • Understand simple instructions like ‘kiss mommy’ or ‘get shoes’.
  • Plays peek-a-boo.
  • Imitates animal noises.

 18 months- 2 years

  • By 18 months, know the names of people, body parts, and objects.
  • Greater level of concentration on preferred activities.
  • Uses 50 or more single words.
  • Understand between 200-500 words.
  • Putting short sentences together (approx 2 words).
  • Enjoy pretend play with their toys, such as feeding dolly.
  • Copy sounds and words

2-3 years

  • Follow simple requests (such as “put the book on the table”).
  • Can make phrases, such as “no bottle” or “want cookie.”.
  • Puts 4 or 5 words together to make short sentences, such as ‘want more juice’ or ‘he took my ball’..
  • Takes turns in a conversation.

 3-4 years

  • Listen to longer stories and answer questions about a storybook.
  • Knows colours, numbers, and time (e.g. yesterday/today).
  • Starts to understand simple jokes.
  • Enjoys make belief play.
  • Able to use the past tense (we went to the shop).
  • Is understood by most people outside of the family.
  • Uses long sentences 5-8 words.
  • Understands questions using who, what, why, when and where.
  • Speech is usually steady and clear and people who are not so familiar with your child can understand what your child is saying most of the time.

 4-5 years

  • Able to maintain conversation for much longer.
  • Choose their own friends and play mates.
  • Uses sentences that are well formed.
  • Think more complicated language such as ‘first’, ‘last’, ‘might’, ‘may be’.
  • Uses sentences that are well formed.
  • Uses most sounds effectively, may have difficulty with words with more syllables.
  • Says rhyming words.
  • Understands spoken instructions easily.

5-7 years

  • Greater ability to focus on one thing for longer.
  • Understands feelings and describes things like ‘carefully’ , ‘faster’ etc.
  • Relies less on pictures and words to learn new words.
  • Learns that different words can have a double meaning.
  • Share and discuss more complex ideas.
  • Uses language for different purposes such as asking questions or persuading.
  • Express ideas with a number of complex sentences.
  • Asks/answers factual and inferential questions.
  • Gives directions.
  • Listens to and understands stories in school that are read aloud to them.

7-9 years

  • Grammar is mostly acquired.
  • Understands and uses the exceptions to grammatical rules.
  • Asks and answers factual and inferential questions.
  • Gives directions with 3-4 steps.
  • Begins to use and understand figurative language (e.g. pull your socks up).
  • Uses most parts of speech, grammar is mostly acquired.
  • Uses clear and specific vocabulary in conversation and discussions.
  • Explains what has been learned.
  • Understands direction words.
  • Gives synonyms and categories in word definitions.

9-11 years

  • Comprehension and use of language is more sophisticated.
  • May share his/her opinions often.
  • May pick up on words that friends or other adults use.
  • Your child could begin to learn new language without fully understanding the meaning
  • They can recite poems and debate issues.
  • Children describe events and stories in great detail.

11-17 years

  • Use longer sentences; usually 7-12 words or more.
  • Understands and uses sarcasm.
  • Subtle or witty humour.
  • Maintains topic or changes topic well in conversation.
  • Know that they talk differently to friends than to teachers.
  • Understand and use slang terms with friends. They keep up with rapidly changing ‘street talk’.
  • Tells long and complicated stories.
  • Follow complicated instructions.
  • Understand people can have other points of view and show that they agree or disagree.

(Adapted from I CAN, 20