This week I was working with a child turning three soon and the mom asked me what was typical language development for a three-year old?  I shared the following with her.

By 3 years of age your child is likely to:

  • Be around 80% intelligible, still substituting and distorting some later developing consonants such as th, ch, sh, j, f, v, l, s and r
  • Understand about 900 words
  • Understand what it means to do something “later”
  • Listen to a 20 minute story
  • Understand the prepositions “in”, “on” and “under” and will follow directions using those words.
  • Follow a 3 step direction such as, “Get your shoes, put them on and come to the table.”
  • Answer simple “Who?” “Why?” “Where?” and “How Many?” questions
  •  Ask simple questions such as, “What’s that?”
  • Ask lots of questions to gain information as well as your attention!
  • Use “is” as in “The boy is running” and “The ball is blue”.
  • Use 4-5 word sentences, containing a number of grammatical errors
  • Use the pronouns “I, me, you and mine”
  • Describe interesting experiences in his recent past
  • Initiate a conversation starting with, “Hey Mommy or listen Mommy” and give a monologue with details about something interesting to him
  • Use speech to comment, “I can’t find my truck”, as well as express feelings, “I can’t fix it.”

Play is an important vehicle for expanding your child’s language. Take a puppet or “little people” figure and “talk” to the one in your child’s hand. Carry on a pretend conversation using people, animals or little figures. At first your child might not respond, but carry on the conversation yourself and he will eventually enter in. Through your play conversations you will be modeling questions, using prepositions, introducing new vocabulary,  and narrating your play. 

I have posted an article today on strategies for encouraging your three-year-old’s language which should be helpful.