This page is all about 5 year old speech and language skills.  Keep in mind that these milestones are based on research about typically-developing children but this information is not meant to diagnose a speech-language delay or disorder.  There is a wide range of “normal” and even if your child is slightly delayed in a few of these areas, it doesn’t necessarily mean he or she has a speech or language delay.  Please contact a speech-language pathologist for a screening if you are concerned about your child’s speech and language skills.  All norms are taken from the  Linguisystems Guide to Communication Milestones which sites the specific resources and research articles used to find each milestone.

Speech Sound Development

By this age, your child should be able to consistently make the following sounds correctly:
-/p/, /b/, /m/, /h/, /n/, /w/, /d/, /k/, /g/, /d/, /f/, “y”

Your child’s speech should be understood by a stranger about 90% of the time.

Speech Sound Resource Page

Grammatical Markers

Your child should be correctly using most of the following grammatical markers:

  • Pronouns:
    – I, me, you, he, she, him, her, we, us, they, them

How to teach the pronouns “he” and “she”

  • Possessive Pronouns:
    – My, mine, your, yours, his, her, hers, our, ours, their, theirs
  • Other pronouns like:
    – myself, yourself, herself, himself, itself, ourselves, yourselves, themselves
  • “-ing” on the end of verbs

How to Teach Present Progressive “-ing”

  • Plural -s (The apples)

How to Teach Plurals

  • Possessive -s (Mommy‘s ball)

How to Teach Possessive ‘s

  • Past tense verbs (jumped, ran, etc.)

How to Teach Past Tense Verbs

Past Tense Verb Flashcards

  • Regular third person singular (he jumps, she runs)
  • Articles (the ball, a banana)

How to Teach Articles “the” and “a”

  • The conjunction “and”

How to Teach the Conjunction “And”

  • Helping verbs such as “to be”, “to do”, and “to have”, including contractions (such as “that‘s my ball”, “I’ll do that”, and “I have two”)

Your child should also be producing sentences with an average length of 4.5 words/morphemes or more.

How to Increase Sentence Length

Pragmatic Skills

Your child should be interacting with other people in most of the following ways:

  • Follows three-step directions without cues

Teach a Child to Follow Directions

Following Directions Game

  • Uses direct requests with justification (“Stop that, you’re hurting me.”)
  • Uses words to invite others to play

Social Skill Activities for Preschoolers

  • Uses language to resolve disputes with peers
  • Plays competitive exercise games (with help from adults)
  • Can hold a basic conversation

Teach a Child to Stay on Topic

  • Speaks of imaginary conditions, such as “What if…” and “I hope…”

Social Skills Resource Page

Literacy/Book Skills

Your child should be using books in most of the following ways:

  • Understands story sequence (what comes first, next, last)

Sequencing Game

  • Understands the function and purpose of print
  • Knows many letter names
  • Uses more letter-like forms that scribbles

Literacy Resource Page

  • Is developing phonological awareness and pre-reading skills:

The Ultimate Guide to Phonological Awareness and Pre-Reading Skills

Concept Development

Your child should have an understanding of most of the following concepts:

  • Understands comparative and superlative adjectives, such as “big”, “bigger”, and “biggest”
  • Understands time concepts yesterday, today, tomorrow, first, then, next, days of the week, last week, next week
  • Understands different, nearest, through, thin, whole
  • Identifies positional concepts first, middle, last

How to Teach a Spatial Concept

Vocabulary Resource Page

Vocabulary Development

Your child should have a vocabulary of about 2,200-2,500 words.  We don’t recommend you try to count all of them, this should just give you a rough estimate!

Vocabulary Resource Page


Your child should be able to use questions in most of the following ways:

  • Answers a variety of questions, including “yes/no”, “what”, “who”, “where”,  “why”, “how”, “when”, and “how many” (as long as there are only a few things)
  • Asks “what”, “where”, “when”, “how”, “whose” and one-word “why” questions
  • Asks “is” questions (like “what is this?” and “is she crying?”)

 Questions Resource Page

Listening Skills

Your child should be doing most of the following listening skills:

  • Attends to a short story and answers simple questions about it

Answering Questions Resource Page

Literacy Resource Page

  • Hears and understands most of what is said at home and in school
  • Repeats four digits when they are given slowly
  • Readily follows simple commands involving remote objects (such as “go to your room and get your blue shoes and bring them here”)

Teach a child to follow directions

More Information

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