Speech and Language Development Stages: Between 3 and 4 Years Old

Speech and Language Milestones

  • Names several colors
  • Understands “yesterday,” “summer”, “lunchtime”, “tonight”, “little-big”
  • Follows requests like “put the block under the chair”
  • Enjoys books, simple songs, nursery rhymes, silly words, and stories
  • Most of what they say can be understood
  • Puts words together to form 3-5-word sentences
  • Asks and answers “who”, “what”, and “where” questions
  • Asks LOTS of questions
  • Likes to talk and have conversations with people
  • Uses pronouns “I”, “you” and “me”
  • Knows their name, gender, and a number of nursery rhymes
  • Knows some prepositions (position words) such as in, on, and under
  • Often makes mistakes with negatives and use “double negatives” ie: “I don’t not want to go”
  • Begins to recognize some letters and words (e.g. recognizes “stop” sign, the “M” for McDonalds, etc.)
  • Sorts (match) objects by: function (find something you play with, wear, etc); size (big, little); familiar colors
  • Is developing number concepts – can give you 1, more, or all of something
  • Counts objects, even if they don’t have all the numbers correct
  • May repeat sounds, words, or phrases (may sound like stuttering)
  • Stays with one activity for 8-10 minutes


Activities to encourage child speech and language development

  • Repeat and expand phrases (i.e. “want more milk” becomes “Can I have more milk”)
  • Model correct sound productions
  • Model correct question forms, pronoun use and verb tenses
  • Talk about how objects are the same or different
  • Encourage telling stories using books and pictures
  • Encourage play with other children
  • Reinforce turn taking in play and in speech
  • Read longer stories, have them tell the story back to you
  • Pay attention / make eye contact while talking and listening
  • Talk about places you’ve been or will be going (daily schedule or routine)


Speech Development Warning Signs:

Contact Speech Matters, LLC if your child demonstrates difficulty with:

  • Interest in talking to adults or children
  • Language not growing in length or complexity
  • Poor sorting or matching skills
  • Difficulty answering questions: what, what-doing, where
  • Difficulty following commands
  • Not asking who, what, or where questions
  • Poor speech production: not easily understood by family members or familiar people in their life
  • Limited self-vocalization during pretend play activities



Are you seeing some of the warning signs in your child’s speech and language development?

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