Written By: Elissa Murnick M.S. CCC-SLP Certified Speech Language Pathologist, Director Murnick Speech & Language Associates
Many parents of preschool age children have concerns with their child’s speech and language development. More often than not, a parent has received a referral from their pediatrician or preschool teacher to seek out a speech and language Evaluation to rule out a delay or disorder.
Many parents feel overwhelmed by this suggestion and often want to wait until their child begins Kindergarten to see if he/she will outgrow the problem before then.
It is well documented that children who receive early intervention during their preschool years have greater success upon entering Kindergarten and have less of an impact socially.
Furthermore, early intervention provided to a child with speech and/or language difficulties can reduce the child’s risk for future difficulties with reading and writing upon entering Kindergarten.
Although services are often available to children who qualify for a speech & language Impairment in the public schools, a child needs to have a very significant impairment in order to qualify for special education and he/she will only receive services if a significant educational impact as a result of the communication difficulty is present.
If you feel that you child has delayed speech and/or language skills, it is recommended that you pursue further evaluation and possibly treatment from a licensed, certified speech language pathologist.
Below are examples of speech & language milestones for preschool age children:
Between 4 and 5 years
- Produces sentences of 4-8 words in length
- Produces complex sentences
- Generally follows grammatical rules and uses past tense verbs, plural nouns and pronouns
- Has a speaking vocabulary of about 900-2000 words
Between 5 and 6 years
- Can tell you what objects are made of
- Knows spatial relationships (i.e. “on top” and “far”)
- Can make comparisons between two objects
- Asks “How” questions
For more examples of milestones for children 4, 5 or 6 years old, please visit kindergarten milestones on my website
Children with speech and/or language delays/disorders are much more likely to experience difficulties in the classroom, specifically in the areas of writing and reading. They will have difficulties in the classroom in the following areas:
- Comprehending multi-step auditory directions
- Comprehending and using new vocabulary terms
- Processing information presented auditorily
- Speaking in grammatical correct sentences of appropriate length and complexity
A child’s reading and writing skills can be affected by a speech and/or language delay demonstrated by the following difficulties:
- Determining the relationship between letters and sounds.
- Discriminating between sounds in words
- Learning sight words.
- Identifying initial and final sounds in words
For more examples of reading and writing difficulties in children, please visit kindergarten milestones on my website.
Here are some suggestions for things you can do at home with your child:
- Reading books with your child and asking questions about what is read introduces him/her to new vocabulary and allows him/her to hear grammatically correct sentence structures
- Improve phonemic awareness with word play through rhyming words or songs. Talk about how the words rhyme, begin with the same sound or end with the same sound.
- Exposing your child to new experiences will help improve overall vocabulary and improve sentence length and complexity.
If you decide to pursue a speech and language Evaluation, a speech-language pathologist will assess:
- What your child understands (Receptive Language)
- What your child can say (Expressive Language)
- Sound development and clarity of speech (Articulation).
- Your child's Oral-Motor skills (How a child's mouth, tongue, lips, etc., work together for speech as well as eating and swallowing)
Elissa Murnick is a licensed, certified speech language pathologist and the owner of Murnick Speech & Language Associates in Fairfield.