Communication Milestones: 3 to 4 Years

These communication milestones cover hearing, speech, and language development in children.

Each child develops uniquely, even within the same family, and may meet certain milestones earlier or later than others. If your child does not meet many of the milestones within their age range, visit ASHA ProFind to find an ASHA-certified audiologist or speech-language pathologist (SLP) for an assessment.

What should my child be able to do?

  • Compares things, with words like bigger or shorter.26, 20
  • Tells you a story from a book or a video.26, 20
  • Understands and uses more location words, like inside, on, and under.43, 18
  • Uses words like a or the when talking, like a book or the dog.27, 13
  • Pretends to read alone or with others.5, 37
  • Recognizes signs and logos like STOP.5, 37
  • Pretends to write or spell and can write some letters.37
  • Correctly produces t, k, g, f, y, and –ing in words.1, 4
  • Says all the syllables in a word.40
  • Says the sounds at the beginning, middle, and end of words.40
  • By age 4 years, your child talks smoothly. Does not repeat sounds, words, or phrases most of the time.25
  • By age 4 years, your child speaks so that people can understand most of what they say. Child may make mistakes on sounds that are later to develop—like l, j, r, sh, ch, s, v, z, and th.7, 1, 30, 2, 4
  • By age 4 years, your child says all sounds in a consonant cluster containing two or more consonants in a row—like the tw in tweet or the –nd in sand. May not produce all sounds correctly—for example, spway for “spray.” 8, 40

What can I do to help?

  • Cut out pictures from old magazines. Make silly pictures by gluing parts of different pictures together. For example, cut out a dog and a car. Glue the dog into the car as the driver. Help your child explain what is silly about the picture.
  • Sort pictures and objects into categories, like food, animals, or shapes. Ask your child to find the picture or object that does not belong. For example, a baby does not belong with the animals.
  • Read, sing, and talk about what you do and where you go. Use rhyming words. This will help your child learn new words and sentences. Do this in all the languages you use.
  • Read books with a simple story. Talk about the story with your child. Help them retell the story or act it out with props and dress-up clothes. Tell them your favorite part of the story. Ask for their favorite part.
  • Look at family pictures. Have your child tell a story about the picture.
  • Help your child understand by asking them questions. Have them try to fool you with their own questions. Make this a game by pretending that some of their questions fool you.
  • Act out daily activities, like cooking food or going to the doctor. Use dress-up and role-playing to help your child understand how others talk and act. This will help your child learn social skills and how to tell stories.
  • Talk to your child in the languages you are most comfortable using. From time to time, your child might use words from their languages in the same sentence or conversation. Don’t worry; this is a normal part of becoming multilingual.

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