Development of Speech Sounds – Is my Child on Track? … Age 3 1/2

June 10, 2018

Welcome to the Time to Talk Blog

We are passionate about helping children with communication difficulties and we would love to share own experience with families, carers, and education staff. We hope that our information helps you to help your children.

What sounds should my child be able to say at 3 ½ years:

By 3 ½ years, your child should be able to say and use these sounds:

p        b        t        d        k        g        m        n        h        w        f        y

An easy way to check if your child is using these sounds correctly is to see if they can say the words below correctly:

If your 3 ½-year-old child still has the errors, displayed in the image on the right, the development of their speech sounds may be delayed.

Why are Speech sounds an important part of your child’s development?

Without clear speech, children can struggle to communicate with, and be understood by others. Difficulties using particular speech sounds can affect the way your child says their own name, and other important words such as their favourite games, toys, food and places. This can impact how well they are understood when talking about many things such as: their family, what they got for their birthday, what happened in the playground, where they went on the weekend … the list is endless.

What is the impact of speech difficulties?

Children who have difficulty being understood by others can often become frustrated, which may impact their behavior and how they interact with others.

It may still seem like a long way away when your child is 3 ½, but the years do pass quickly, and children need to have their speech sounds developed before they start school, or their early literacy (reading and spelling) may be affected.

What can I do to help my child’s speech development?

If you have concerns about your child’s use of different speech sounds or how clearly they speak, it recommended you contact a Speech Pathologist for an assessment of your child’s speech sounds. You will be advised if your child’s speech sound development is on track or if they are behind for their age – and would benefit from some help to catch up.

In the meantime, the following strategies can help your child’s speech development:

1.     Have your child’s hearing tested to make sure he/she can hear different sounds and has adequate hearing for speech

2.     Model clear speech to your child

3.     If your child says a word incorrectly, say it back to him/her so that he/she can hear the correctly spoken word

4.     Encourage your child to watch you when you are talking to them – we get a lot of information from the faces of people taking to us

5.     Make sure you are facing your child and at their level

6.     Play around and have fun with sounds – rhyming books are great for this.

Remember that early intervention gives the best possible outcome, so if you have any concerns about your child’s speech or language skills, seek advice from a speech pathologist. We are trained to assess all areas of children’s communication skills.

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Thanks to the following clip artists for their fonts and clip art in this post:

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