Speech and language development 5-6
As children enter kindergarten and formal schooling, their communication skills blossom and they become confident users of language. A child’s speech and language skills allow them to communicate ideas and share and express thoughts and emotions with those around them. At this age a child’s temperament may strongly influence demonstration of their skills, some children are just shy, however regardless of temperament the milestones below are what children of this age should achieve. Speech and Language Milestones are divided by Speech Therapists, and professionals in the field, into the 6 different categories below, which are all equally important.
Speech and language development: Audition (Listening)
Audition is the development of listening skills. Children at this age have continued to develop their auditory memory skills and are now able to listen and remember their favourite nursery rhymes. Children are learning to be attentive listeners as audience members. It is important at this age to model listening skills to children when they are talking to you.
Speech and language development: Receptive Language (what your child understands)
Receptive language skills are essential for comprehension and following instructions. Children of this age understand more than they can express and word vocabulary ranges between 5000-20,000 words. Children are carrying out a series of 3 part directions as well as understanding rhymes. Children of this age commonly become interested in Dr Seuss books. They are able to comprehend jokes and enjoy jokes and riddles. Children, due to improved pragmatic skills (social competence with language skills), are able to understand the difference between being asked and being told to do something.
Speech and language development: Expressive Language (what your child says)
Kindergarten students are confidently using past/present and future tense to describe events. Their sentences may be more than 8 words in length and children can give detailed descriptions of object and events. Children are talking in complex and compound sentences. They are able to present a short “show and tell” to their class. Kindergarten students are also able to answer the question “Hi, how are you”.
Speech and language development: Speech (talking and forming words and sounds correctly)
This is an important age period for speech and articulation (pronunciation). It is important that speech errors are not corrected at this age rather the correct model of speech is provided. Children at this age may still be struggling with a few tricky consonant sounds. Substituting f for th is normal as the th sound is only beginning to develop. Lisping is very common and is due to tongue placement in the mouth. This is of no concern and the majority of children will improve with no intervention before turning seven.
Speech and language development: Fluency and disfluency
Fluency is also an issue for children of this age. As a child’s vocabulary increases at a rapid rate, a child’s brain may ‘race’ too quickly for their mouth and cause stuttering. Children may also repeat syllables in words. This disruption to ‘smooth’ speech usually self corrects. However if your child stutters by repeating the beginning sound of words or their volume or pitch changes when stuttering at this age then a referral is needed before errors become habits.
Speech and language development: Cognition (comprehension of concepts)
Cognitive development in kindergarten is tiring for young students which can impact on speech skills. Children can sequence and name the days of the week. They can identify 6 colours and 3 basic shapes. Children understand time sequences (eg first, second and third) and are using their imagination to create detailed stories and role plays. At this age language development can be supported with puppets and dress up costumes. Children at this age should be able to provide their full name, address, age and their birthday. Kindergarten kids are beginning to categorise objects.
Speech and language development:Pragmatics (Effective Social Communication Skills)
Five to six year olds are engaging in conversations with both peers and adults. A child of this age can whisper and uses intonation correctly. They begin to understand perspective in simple stories as well as knowing they must include basic details when telling a story for it to make sense. Children are learning to read facial expressions and become more animated when sharing news. Children are correctly using questions to obtain the information they need.
Speech and language development: Important
Speech errors are common at this age and parents should never joke or make fun of these mistakes. Commenting rather than questioning is a technique which reduces frustration and allows a child to still feel in control of a conversation with their parents, boosting their confidence.
Find more about kids speech and language development:
- Speech and language development for pre-kinder children
- Speech and language development for 5-6 year olds
- Speech and language development for 7-8 year olds
- Speech and language development for 9-10 year olds
- Speech and language development for 11-12 year olds
- What is phonetics
- What is phonics
- What is phonemics
- How tongue twisters aid speech and language
- The importance of nursery rhymes
- Simple songs to boost speech and language
- Learning a second language
- All about syllables
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This article was written by Michelle Barrington for Kidspot, New Zealand’s leading education resource for parents. Michelle is a teacher and mother of a toddler who blogs at Gee, You're Brave.