Language development is one of the most important development in a child. It therefore becomes important for every parent, caretaker and early childhood educator to know about the language development milestones in early childhood, especially between the ages 3 to 6, as this is a phase when the child also picks up cognitive skills along with language skills.
In this article:
- Language development milestones in children across age groups 3 to 4, 4 to 5 and 5 to 6 years.
- Developmentally appropriate practices for language development for the aforesaid age group.
Language Development Milestones for 3 to 4 Year Olds
The following are some of the language development milestones for 3 year olds, up to 4 years.
- 3 year old toddlers have a vocabulary comprising between 2,000 to 4,000 words
- About 80% of their speech is comprehensible
- Can form sentences of 3 to 5 words at a time
- They can understand much more words than they speak
- Can use a choice of words to describe and explain
- They begin to comprehend that words can be spoken, and can be written and read again
- They are able to listen to stories and may therefore pretend to read
- Can be able to predict what might happen next in the story after a particular point
- May be able to associate a part/section of a story to their own real-life experiences
- Enjoy repeating words with rhyming sounds and tunes
- Scribbling happens with intention and starts to resemble writing
Developmentally Appropriate Practices for Language Development for 3 to 4 Year Olds
To develop language, the following are some developmentally appropriate practices for 3 year olds, up to 4 years:
- Introduce various nursery rhymes which will help them develop their language skills
- Provide ample opportunities to listen and use the words in various forms, such as stories, poems, rhymes, etc.
- Facilitate an environment which encourages them to involve in conversations
- Provide platforms to express themselves openly and freely
- Encourage to tell stories through their creative endeavours like drawing, painting and clay modeling
- Conduct story sessions in small groups
- Encourage to read by modulating their voice
- Make them read short stories aloud and gradually increase the length of the stories
Language Development Milestones for 4 to 5 Year Olds
The following are some of the language development milestones for 4 year olds, up to 5 years:
- They have a vocabulary comprising between 4,000 to 6,000 words
- Can form sentences of up to six words
- Can understand more complex sentences
- Can have extended conversations depending on their interest and curiosity on the topic
- Are more interested in written and spoken languages
- Can name letters and recognize new and relatively complex words
- Are persistent in asking the “What”, “How”, “Why”, “Where” questions and may insist on answers
- Enjoy making up their own stories with a creative mix of reality and make-believe
Developmentally Appropriate Practices for Language Development for 4 to 5 Year Olds
To develop language, the following are some developmentally appropriate practices for 4 year olds, up to 5 years:
- Deliberately engage children in extended conversations to share more detail about their experiences and broaden their vocabulary
- Invite them to narrate stories and experiences to your family, friends, neighbours or housing society/associations
- Encourage children to tell their own stories about their school annual day, sports day or any other special day
- Provide opportunities to recreate a story
- Ask them to share how they enjoyed their summer holidays and how did they spend their time during the break
- Demonstrate how to ask the right kind of questions to get the answers and encourage them to do the same
- Expose them to stimulating environments and experiences through field trips, museum visits and science experiences
- Introduce them to various forms of music, especially classical music
Language Development Milestones for 5 to 6 Year Olds
The following are some of the language development milestones for 5 year olds, up to 6 years.
- They have a vocabulary comprising between 5,000 to 8,000 words
- Can use more complex sentences containing more than 7 to 10 words
- Will wait for their turn and take turns to converse
- They can ask relevant questions that are related to the context of the discussion or conversation
- Their grammar is getting more structured due to increased exposure to conversations
- Are able to read and can match letters to the sounds
- Can write few short words by combining few short letters
- Can tell and re-tell stories
- Love songs, acting-out plays and narrating stories
Developmentally Appropriate Practices for Language Development for 5 to 6 Year Olds
To develop language, the following are some developmentally appropriate practices for 5 year olds, up to 6 years.
- Encourage to ask questions so that they can expand their thinking through the answers
- Answer questions elaborately on the facts
- Simplify the answers so that they will grasp the entire concept
- Encourage to find out more about an answer through other means to get more facts
- Engage them in various forms of activities to enhance their readiness for reading and writing
- Encourage them to create stories and record it, so that it can be enacted in different forms
- Introduce them to a musical project and make them involve in the planning as well as execution
For children to make the most of the cognitive development milestones in early childhood years, it is important that parents, caregivers and educators facilitate and execute the developmentally appropriate activities discussed above.
In other words, how well the cognitive and language development happens in a child depends on the facilitation and execution of the developmentally appropriate activities.
Disclaimer: The content in this page and across this website are for informational and educational purposes only. In case of any concerns about your child’s growth and development, please contact your professional child healthcare provider.