The following examples show what speech, language and pre-literacy skills we expect to see in under 5’s. They are called ranges, because we know that each child will differ in their development.

Any areas that raise concerns or questions with your child’s development is an opportunity to call us. We will consult with you on the phone and talk to you about the next steps you may need to take.

We are a multidisciplinary profession and work closely with OTs, Physio’s, GPs, and Psychologists to make sure the child’s development is at the centre of all we do.

Early years intervention can be a springboard for later years.



If your child is not understandable to strangers at the age of 3 yrs old, a speech assessment is recommended.

By the age of 3 years, 75% of speech should be understood by unfamiliar listeners hearing your child’s speech.

At 4 years of age, a child is generally easy to understand about 100% of the time but it is still typical for them to have errors, such as:

  • Lisping with the tongue between the teeth on ‘s’ and ‘z’ sounds, so that they may say thun for sun
  • Simplifying ‘th’ to ‘f’ or ‘d’, e.g. saying free for three or doze for those


We are looking out for the following areas of language development during the early years.

In the first year (18 Months):

  • Single words – children should have 20 – 50 words
  • Following simple one-step commands (e.g., pick up the cup)
  • Looking at the person talking
  • Identifying objects in a book and looking for objects that are out of sight


In the second year:

  • Putting two words together (e.g., bye teddy, daddy gone, more drink)
  • Asking questions – What’s that? Where? & starts naming objects and pictures spontaneously
  • Responds to simple two-part instructions (e.g., put teddy in the bed)
  • Points to some body parts when asked (e.g., eyes, ears, nose)


In the third year:

  • Uses three or more words in a sentence (not grammatically correct or complete!)
  • Vocabulary of several hundred words including adjectives (big) and adverbs (fast)
  • Talks about things not present – i.e. in the past
  • Talks about actions of others using questions or answers


In the fourth year:

  • Understanding of concepts of time (e.g., ‘now’, ‘soon’, ‘later’) and location words (e.g., ‘in’, ‘on’, ‘under’)
  • Sentences are 4-5 words in length and stories become more elaborate
  • Beginning to use correct grammar (e.g., ‘that is blue’) with regular past tense (e.g., walked)
  • Answers ‘who’, ‘why’ questions

We are really pleased with our sons progress with the therapy. We feel confident to discontinue his sessions based on what we’ve seen. We appreciate the work that has taken place over the years and the results are seen today.
– Preschool client, Lane Cove


Pre-literacy skills support later literacy development

We want to encourage the following areas for pre-literacy skills and look out for any concerns:

2;0 – 2;11
Exposure to rhyming game, correcting speech errors, playing with sounds

3;0 – 4;11
Attend to rhyming sounds, (cat and hat rhyme), alliteration (bobby bats a ball), tap out words/syllables (but-ter-fly)

5;0 – 5;11
Syllable segmentation, (clap out dinosaur), rhyme awareness, (make a word rhyming with boat) alliteration awareness, phoneme isolation (c)

5;6 – 5;11
Phoneme segmentation (c-a-t)
(Dodd & Gillon, 2001)