Speech and Language Skills Your Toddler Should Have

Speech and Language Skills Your Toddler Should Have

The first three years of life are crucial for the development of your child’s speech and language skills. While every child develops these skills at their own pace, there are certain milestones that they should hit around certain ages. In this post, we are going to look at the speech and language milestones that your child should reach by age three or four. At Watch Me Shine, our mission is to give each child a safe and supportive environment to learn, grow, and develop academically, emotionally, and socially. Learning to communicate is a key part of that process.

Let’s take a look at the speech and language skills your toddler should have.


Voice, Speech, and Language

Before we dive in, let’s define the terms we are going to be talking about. When discussing communication skills, the main terms we use are voice, speech, and language.

  • Voice is the sounds that we make by pushing air from the lungs through the vocal folds in the larynx. Those folds vibrate, making the sound that we call our voice.
  • Speech is talking, or how we shape the sounds of our voice. The muscle actions of the tongue, lips, jaw, and vocal tract form the sounds that we recognize as language.
  • Language is the shared set of rules that govern speech and allow us to communicate so that we can understand each other. Language is not confined to speech. It can be expressed through writing, signing, and other gestures.



The most obvious way your child expresses their speech and language skills is through talking. A typical three-year-old has a vocabulary of about 200 words and can string three- or four-word sentences together. They are starting to grasp the mechanics of grammar and syntax and understand how to use plurals and the past tense. It is common for them to make some mistakes in irregular plurals or verb forms. When your child says “foots” or “goed,” it means that they understand the rules. They just haven’t learned the exceptions to those rules yet.

By age three or four, your child should be able to answer simple who/what/where questions and ask when and how questions. They should also enunciate words relatively clearly at this age. You should be able to understand about three-quarters of what they say. Other adults who don’t know your child should be able to understand them pretty well, too.


Hearing and Understanding

The other half of speech and language skills is hearing and understanding what other people say. Your toddler should understand and respond when you call them from another room. That is, they should recognize that you are speaking to them even if they can’t see you. They should understand and point to simple colors and shapes. They should also understand the words for basic family relationships, such as sister, grandmother, and uncle. Understanding and following two-part instructions (“pick up your toy and put it in the box”) is another milestone in the development of your child’s communication skills.

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Speech and Language Support at Watch Me Shine

If you think that your child is not meeting these milestones, our team at Watch Me Shine is trained to assess your child’s development and skill level. We will craft a program for your child that is designed to meet their unique needs. We even get the whole family involved so that your child can continue to develop and master their speech and language skills at home.


Contact Watch Me Shine today to learn more about what we can do for your child!

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