Speech & Language Development ~ What Should My Four Year Old Be Doing?

January 31, 2011

A 4 year old child generally:

  • speaks in 4 – 5 word sentences
  • starts and carries on a conversation, tells simple stories with speech almost 100% correct
  • draws people, simple shapes and cuts paper
  • counts to 5, knows 4 or more colours, and 5 or more letters of the alphabet
  • follows simple, two-step directions ~ “Get the ball and throw it to the dog”
  • likes make believe play and dressing up
  • shows concern for siblings or playmates when hurt and will help another child when asked
  • asks others to play

Concerns may arise if, most of the time, your 4 year old:

  • is not understood by others
  • uses short and/or simple phrases
  • is not able to follow 2 step directions
  • repeats back only words said to them
  • does not like to use crayons or pencils, or has trouble holding a pencil
  • seems not to notice, or does not feel sorry when they hurt someone

Good things parents can do!

  • let your child help solve problems ~ what can she wear if her favourite shoes are left at playschool?
  • help your child classify objects and things ~ ask “what kinds of things you can ride in?”
  • ask questions about how things work ~  “how do airplanes stay in the air?”
  • teach your child how to use the telephone
  • give choices about what he wants to wear or eat.  Keep choices simple and be sure to honor his choices.
  • let her tell and make up stories for you ~ write them down together
  • get your child involved in group play with other children
  • talk about different feelings ~ happy, sad, angry, and frustrated….make masks to show those feelings, and use the masks to talk about when you might have those feelings
  • make time to draw together and talk about your child’s drawings

If you have questions or concerns about your child’s development, contact your local Public Health Nurse or Speech-Language Pathologist.