District Site

410 Central Ave. N.
New Prague, MN 56071

phone: 952-758-1700
fax: 952-758-1799


Speech & Language Development

What is language?

Language is the code we use to understand and communicate our ideas as well as to express our wants and needs.  Speech is the spoken form of our language.  Children hear language by listening and then practicing what they hear.  This is the way they figure out the rules of our language code.  Children do not learn language at exactly the same rate.  They learn in stages, over time, not all at once. 


Language Development - 1 year old

  • Recognizes name 
  • Says 2-3 words besides "mama" and "dada" 
  • Imitates familiar words 
  • Understands simple instructions 
  • Recognizes words as symbols for objects: Car -points to garage, cat-meows

Help Me Grow webpage: 1 Year Old

Activities to Encourage your Child's Language:

  • Respond to your child's coos, gurgles, and babbling 
  • Talk to your child as you care for him or her throughout the day 
  • Read colorful books to your child every day 
  • Tell nursery rhymes and sing songs 
  • Teach your child the names of everyday items and familiar people 
  • Take your child with you to new places and situations 
  • Play simple games with your child such as "peek-a-boo" and "pat-a-cake"

Language Development - 2 year old

  • Understands "no" 
  • Uses 10 to 20 words, including names 
  • Combines two words such as "daddy bye-bye" 
  • Waves good-bye and plays pat-a-cake 
  • Makes the "sounds" of familiar animals 
  • Gives a toy when asked 
  • Uses words such as "more" to make wants known 
  • Points to his or her toes, eyes, and nose 
  • Brings object from another room when asked 

Help me Grow webpage: 2 Year Old

Activities to Encourage your 2 year old Child's Language:

  • Reward and encourage early efforts at saying new words 
  • Talk to your baby about everything you're doing while you're with him 
  • Talk simply, clearly, and slowly to your child 
  • Talk about new situations before you go, when there, and again when back at home 
  • Look at your child when he or she talks to you 
  • Describe what your child is doing, feeling, hearing 
  • Let your child listen to children's CD's and tapes 
  • Praise your child's efforts to communicate 

Language Development - 3 year old

  • Identifies body parts 
  • Carries on 'conversation' with self and dolls 
  • Asks "what's that?" And "where's my?" 
  • Uses 2-word negative phrases such as "no want". 
  • Forms some plurals by adding "s"; book, books 
  • Has a 450 word vocabulary 
  • Gives first name, holds up fingers to tell age 
  • Combines nouns and verbs "mommy go" 
  • Understands simple time concepts: "last night", "tomorrow" 
  • Refers to self as "me" rather than by name 
  • Tries to get adult attention: "watch me" 
  • Likes to hear same story repeated 
  • May say "no" when means "yes" 
  • Talks to other children as well as adults 
  • Solves problems by talking instead of hitting or crying 
  • Answers "where" questions 
  • Names common pictures and things 
  • Uses short sentences like "me want more" or "me want cookie" 
  • Matches 3-4 colors, knows big and little 

Help me Grow webpage: 3 Year Old

Activities to Encourage your 3 year old's Child's Language: 

  • Repeat new words over and over 
  • Help your child listen and follow instructions by playing games: "pick up theball, " "Touch Daddy's s nose" 
  • Take your child on trips and talk about what you see before, during and after the trip 
  • Let your child tell you answers to simple questions 
  • Read books every day, perhaps as part of the bedtime routine 
  • Listen attentively as your child talks to you 
  • Describe what you are doing, planning, thinking 
  • Have the child deliver simple messages for you (Mommy needs you, Daddy ) 
  • Carry on conversations with the child, preferably when the two of you have some quiet time together 
  • Ask questions to get your child to think and talk 
  • Show the child you understand what he or she says by answering, smiling, and nodding your head 
  • Expand what the; child says. If he or she says, "more juice", You say, "Adam wants more juice." 

Language Development - 4 year old

  • Can tell a story 
  • Has a sentence length of 4-5 words 
  • Has a vocabulary of nearly 1000 words 
  • Names at least one color 
  • Understands "yesterday," "summer", "lunchtime", "tonight", "little-big" 
  • Begins to obey requests like "put the block under the chair" 
  • Knows his or her last name, name of street on which he/she lives and several nursery rhymes 

Help me Grow webpage: 4 Year Old

Activities to Encourage your 4 year old's Child's Language:

  • Talk about how objects are the same or different 
  • Help your child to tell stories using books and pictures 
  • Let your child play with other children 
  • Read longer stories to your child 
  • Pay attention to your child when he's talking 
  • Talk about places you've been or will be going 

Language Development - 5 year old

  • Has sentence length of 4-5 words 
  • Uses past tense correctly 
  • Has a vocabulary of nearly 1500 words 
  • Points to colors red, blue, yellow and green 
  • Identifies triangles, circles and squares 
  • Understands "In the morning" , "next", "noontime" 
  • Can speak of imaginary conditions such as "I hope" 
  • Asks many questions, asks "who?" And "why?" 

Help me Grow webpage: 5 Year Old 

Activities to Encourage your 5 year old Child's Language:

  • Help your child sort objects and things (ex. things you eat, animals. . ) 
  • Teach your child how to use the telephone 
  • Let your child help you plan activities such as what you will make for Thanksgiving dinner 
  • Continue talking with him about his interests 
  • Read longer stories to him 
  • Let her tell and make up stories for you 
  • Show your pleasure when she comes to talk with you 

The 5-6 year old

  • Has a sentence length of 5-6 words 
  • Has a vocabulary of around 2000 words 
  • Defines objects by their use (you eat with a fork) and can tell what objects are made of 
  • Knows spatial relations like "on top", "behind", "far" and "near" 
  • Knows her address 
  • Identifies a penny, nickel and dime 
  • Knows common opposites like "big/little" 
  • Understands "same" and "different" 
  • Counts ten objects 
  • Asks questions for information 
  • Distinguished left and right hand in herself 
  • Uses all types of sentences, for example "let's go to the store after we eat" 

Activities to Encourage your 5-6 year old Child's Language

  • Praise your child when she talks about her feelings, thoughts, hopes and fears 
  • Comment on what you did or how you think your child feels 
  • Sing songs, rhymes with your child 
  • Continue to read longer stories 
  • Talk with him as you would an adult 
  • Look at family photos and talk to him about your family history 
  • Listen to her when she talks to you 


Developmental Order of Speech Sounds

Children should be able to produce all the sounds they need to communicate effectively by 8 years of age or at around 3rd grade.  There is no “set-rule” as to when a child can produce various sounds.  There are exceptions, for example, some children may produce “later” sounds at an early age or “early” sounds at a later age. Most children learn to produce the various sounds, but they may not produce them in the suggested developmental order.   

Speech-language pathologists (SLP) in the district are available to answer questions, evaluate and provide therapy to those who qualify under MN State criteria for children from birth to graduation. Most SLPs have a Master’s Degree plus national certification from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. 

If your child does qualify for speech and language therapy a plan will be written with specific goals and objectives that will address your child’s needs. These communication skills may be taught in several ways - drill and practice, play interactions, communication classes, through literacy, conversation or with the assistance of communication devices. Session length and frequency varies depending on age and the nature and severity of the disorder. 

If you have specific concerns regarding your child, talk to your child’s teacher to see if their speech and language patterns are interfering with communication at school. If so, a referral may be made for an assessment by an Speech-Language Pathogist.