Parents often worry and wonder if their child's pronunciation skills are typical for his or her age. Because I work as a speech therapist with young children, this is a topic that I often tackle with moms and dads. This blog post is intended to help bring some clarity to the subject, whether you currently have a young child, or know somebody who has questions about when speech sounds develop.
By the way, did you know that "speech" refers to the way we make speech sounds and pronounce words? But "speech" is often confused with "language." Language is the way we communicate with each other, referring in part to the actual words we use, and how we put them together to build sentences. I'll put HERE some additional information about the differences between speech and language.
When talking about typical speech sound development, I always remind parents that all children develop at different rates. That' why it's important to refer to milestone charts and get a sense of approximately when you can expect those speech sounds to develop. See below for one of those milestone charts!
Do you want to get a closer peek into the Speech Sound Milestones?
By the time children are 2 (24 months) 90% are able to correctly pronounce the following consonant sounds: P, B, T, S, M, N, H.
By the time children are 3 (36 months) 90% are able to correctly pronounce the following consonant sounds: K, G, F, Y, Ng.
By the time children are 4 (48 months) 90% are able to correctly pronounce the following consonant sounds: S, Z, L, V, J, Sh, Ch.
By the time children are 5 (60 months) 90% are able to correctly pronounce the following consonant sounds: R, Zh, Th (voiced). And finally, by the time children are 6-years-old, 90% are able to pronounce Th (voiceless).
It may be easier to understand the above, if you consider these developing sounds in words. (Pro-Tip: It's the actual sounds we make when speaking, not the actual letters.) See tables below:
Consonant Sounds in Words, Ages 2 through 6
Does all this information clear things up? Or now, do you have more questions about your child's speech development? If you have questions, you can contact me with specifics.
Another consideration affecting speech is vowel sound development (a quick inside look: children are able to correctly produce most vowel sounds by age two.) Because it is an expansive topic, we will save a more thorough explanation on "VOWELS" for another blog post. Future blogs will add additional information to the seemingly simple, but actually complex topic of speech, and how it develops.
If after reviewing this information, you're concerned that your child has not yet achieved the speech sound development milestones as expected, what should you do? Seek out an evaluation by a qualified Speech-Language Pathologist to determine if your child has a delay or disorder, and to see how speech therapy services can help.
Reference: McLeod, S. & Crowe, K. (2018). Children's consonant acquisition in 27 languages: A cross-linguistic review. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology.
By Claudia Davisson, M.A. CCC-SLP