Preschool Aged Child
By age 3, your child should have a vocabulary of around 500 words. By age 4, he/she may have around 1500 words. Your child should be speaking in sentences (6-8) words. Pronouns (I, me, mine) may be difficult for the preschooler. The words are easy but the concepts behind these are hard for a young child to understand. Modeling the correct pronoun for your child rather than correcting them is a better strategy. A preschoolers' speech should be intelligible to unfamiliar listeners. For example, a stranger should be able to understand most of what he/he is saying. Although, mispronunications and articulation errors may be present.
At age 3, your child may still exhibit diffculty with some consonant sounds (k, g, s, z, r, th). Some common sound substitutions are: "tat/cat," "dum/gum," "thun/sun," "dip/zip," "wed/red," and "dat/that." The /k/ & /g/ sounds are diffcult for preschoolers because they are produced at the back of the throat and they can't see how the sound is made.
It is normal for a child this age to speak in a "choppy" fashion. Stuttering is considered normal dysfluency at this age. Your child is in the midst of a "language explosion." The child may have difficulty putting sentences together fluently. However, between the ages of 3 & 4, your child's thoughts and sentences chould become more fluent.
How can Parents help?
Reading to your child will help broaden his language skills. Books aid in vocabulary building, understanding grammar, and linking pictures to meaning. Also, at this age child are expanidng their vocabulary by asking questions such as: "What's this?
Possible Speech/Language Problems
If your child is: not talking, says only a few words, doesn't seem interested in communicating, struggles to get words out, gives up and says "never mind," or has a history of ear infections along with articulation errors then he/she may need to be screened for possible speech/language intervention.