Therapy for School Aged Children

School aged boy looking happy

By school age, children should be able to speak clearly enough to be understood by everyone and be well on their way to developing the skills they will need to function at school and in their community. All school aged children should be able to say "S" correctly (i.e without a lisp). Generally speaking, the only sound that it is common for children in kindergarten to struggle with is “Th”.

It is extremely important that children can say all their sounds correctly by the time they start kindergarten so they do not get confused when learning phonics.  Incorrect pronunciation can impact their reading development as well as their ability to be well understood and can undermine their ability to participate in the playground as well as the classroom.  

School age milestones

By 5 years of age your child should be able to:

  • Use sentences of about 6 words with correct grammar
  • Talk about events that are happening, have happened or might happen
  • Explain why something happens, such as "mum's car stopped because the petrol ran out"
  • Explain the function of objects. For example, "this scrunchie keeps my hair away"
  • Say how they feel and tell you their ideas
  • Tell news in a logical sequence
  • Understand opposites such as high/low, wet/dry, big/little
  • Follow 3 directions in a row.  For example, "Put your shoes on, get your lunch box and sit on the chair"
  • Say r, v and l correctly.

By 7 years of age your child should be able to say "th"

By 8 years of age your child should be able to:

  • understand and use abstract concepts
  • express themselves in writing using a variety of text types
  • use specific vocabulary (not "thingo", "stuff")

The above is by no means an exhaustive list but a general, useful guide. 

Social skills

Having good social skills is critical for long-term success in life, often moreso than academic achievement. Many children struggle with social skills in the playground and classroom because of difficulties they have in understanding aspects of language.  They may be performing well academically, but still struggle socially, because of these problems.  Struggling socially often results in great unhappiness in the playground as well as at home.


An effective assessment of children's repertoire of skills is a great way to establish if they need extra help in the area of social skills.  An assessment will:

  • define their social and emotional competence
  • gauge their ability to problem solve.

Effective, targeted assistance can transform your child's playground skills and build their confidence.

When to call for help

Please give Eastside Speech a call if you are concerned about any aspect of your child's speech or language or if they are struggling with their reading or socials skills. The important thing to remember is that intervening early is always preferable. A small delay in infants and early primary years can become more significant as time goes on.

If you are worried about any aspect of your child's speech or understanding of what they hear, we recommend you discuss your child's development with a teacher or carer, and if in doubt consult a speech pathologist at Eastside Speech to determine if your child is reaching the right developmental milestones.

In summary, call Eastside Speech Solutions and ask for your child to be assessed if you have any concerns.

Frequently asked questions

For more information about developmental milestones and language development:

  • When should I consult a speech pathologist about my child?

    Answer

    In summary, call Eastside Speech Solutions and ask for your child to be
    assessed if:

    • You are worried about your child's language comprehension, expression and/or understanding
    • You think your child's understanding is different from other children
      of the same age (click here to read more about developmental milestones)
    • Your child stutters (no matter what their age)
    • Your child's voice sounds different from other children's e.g it sounds hoarse
    • Your child's teacher expresses concern.
  • What are the developmental milestones for a toddler?

    Answer

    By the age of one, your baby should be able to:

    • Say dad, mumma and a few other words
    • Try to make familiar sounds, such as car and animal noises
    • Respond to familiar sounds such as the telephone ringing, vacuum cleaner or a car in the driveway
    • Understand simple commands such as "no!"
    • Recognise their own name
    • Understand the names of familiar objects and people
    • Enjoy songs, music and books.

    By the age of two most children start to talk to themselves and you can seen their language and communication skills starting to develop:

    • Listen to stories and say the names of the pictures
    • Understand simple sentences, such as "where's your shoe?"
    • Say the names of simple body parts such as nose or tummy
    • Use more than 50 words such as "no", "gone", "mine" and "teddy"
    • Talk to themselves or their toys in play
    • Sing simple songs such as "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little star" or "Baa, Baa, Black Sheep"
    • Try simple sentences such as "Milk all gone"
    • Use some simple pronouns such as "he", "if"
    • Should be able to say m, n and h correctly.

    By the age of three, your child's communication should be understood by family, close friends and regular carers and they should be able to:

    • Understand how objects are used e.g. a crayon is something you draw with
    • Recognise their own needs such as hunger
    • Follow directions
    • Understand basic concepts (in/under, hot/cold)
    • Use 3-4 word sentences
    • Understand basic grammar
    • Enjoy telling stories and asking questions
    • Should be able to say p, b, m, n, ng, w, y, t, d, k, g and f

    By the age of four, your child should be able to be understood most of the time by most people.  If you find friends and acquaintances can not understand your child's express then perhaps a visit to a therapist may be warranted.  Your child should be able to:

    • Understand shape and colour names
    • Understand "wh" questions such as "where are they going?" or "why did he fall?"
    • Understand "time" words such as lunchtime, today, winter
    • Use lots of words (900+) and understand complex sentences
    • Use 4-5 word sentences
    • Use correct grammar most of the time
    • Use language when playing with other children
    • Should be able to say s, z, sh, ch and j

    This is by no means an exhaustive list.  If you are concerned about any aspect of your baby or toddler's speech or language please give us a call.

    Click here for milestones for school age children.

  • Is stuttering ever normal?

    Answer

    Stuttering is never a normal part of a child's (or adult's) speech and is not caused by anxiety, stress or poor parenting. Whilst many children do stop stuttering, about 20% continue to stutter into adulthood if left untreated. In general, if your child is 4 years old or if they have been stuttering for about 6 months, now is the time to seek help.

  • What is tongue thrust?

    Answer

    A tongue thrust is a condition where the tongue rests incorrectly (e.g. between the teeth) or moves forward during a swallow.  The result is that the tongue pushes against or protrudes between the upper and lower teeth.

    Some common indicators of a tongue thrust include:

    • an open bite
    • poor teeth alignment
    • poor muscle tone in the lips and cheeks
    • an open mouth resting posture during the day and/or at night
    • a tongue that you can see resting between the teet
    • difficulties saying "s, z, t or d" sounds
    • excessive lip licking or drooling
    • snoring.

     

  • What is PROMPT Therapy?

    Answer

    PROMPT is an acronym for Prompts for Restructuring Oral Muscular Phonetic Targets.  It is a therapy developed in the 1980's by Deborah Hayden, founder of the PROMPT® Institute.  It is a holistic approach that assesses not just a client's speech movement patterns but how their speech production interacts with their language and cognitive abilities as well as their social and emotional skills.  Therapy goals are set taking into account the whole person and their needs.

  • How can I learn more about how PROMPT can help my child?

    Answer

    The PROMPT institute has a very helpful website http://www.promptinstitute.com with information about PROMPT. At Eastside Speech we regularly run parent-training workshops for parents of children in our clinic. These workshops provide a comprehensive overview of the PROMPT apporach and help parents and caregivers to be involved in therapy planning and goal setting. They are generally run over 3 evenings.

Useful resources to help your child

Here are a list of sites and resources we have found useful for our patients: