Children 3 – 14 Years

This page focuses on the child’s growth from the age of 3 up until 14 years.

We will be take a look at the following:

  • Articulation
  • Language
  • Milestones
  • Phonological Awareness
  • Stuttering and how parents can help their child


Speech is a system of sounds with which meaning is conveyed. An articulation error is any sound that it produced incorrectly / not age appropriately in the following forms

  1. S (substitution): e.g. substituting the /r/ for a /w/
  2. O (omission): e.g. at instead of cat
  3. D (distortion): e.g. interdental production of the /s/ sound
  4. A (addition): e.g. terrain instead of train

Articulation and Phonology are often used synonymously, however they have two different meanings. Articulation focuses on how the sounds are produced whereas phonology focuses on how the sounds are combined in order to form words, how words are combined to form sentences and the interpretation ability of the child to interpret and use the interpretations correctly. Research indicates that 75% of children accurately produce the following speech sounds at the corresponding ages:

  • 3 years
    h as in he
    zh as in measure
    y as in yes
    w as in we
    ng as in sing
    m as in me
    n as in no
    p as in up
    k as in car
    t  as in to
    b as in be
    g as in go
    d as in do
  • 3 years 6 months
    f as in if
  • 4 years
    l as in lay
    sh as in she
    ch as in chew
  • 4 years 6 months
    j as in jaw
    s as in so
    z as in is
  • 5 years
    r as in red
  • 6 years
    v as in Vegemite
  • 8 years
    th as in this
  • 8 years 6 months
    th as in thing


Early expressive language delay:

include those children who are considered to be late bloomers and those who do not necessarily have 50 words and are not combining sentences by the age of 24 months. Although these children are considered to catch up to their peers, the gap in development will become bigger and bigger without intervention.

Language learning disability:

There are many different definitions for learning disabilities. However, those with language learning disability are considered to have trouble learning and using the symbols of language.

Specific language impairment:

This happens when a child demonstrates difficulties or delays in the learning of language which are not related to any physical, anatomical or intellectual problems. This is similar to language learning difficulties. However, they do not have the perceptual difficulties often associated with language learning difficulties.

Ways for parents to improve their child’s language 

  1. Be a good example

Children learn through imitation of others, especially their parents.  Be a good example by talking slowly, using short sentences and describing what you or your child is doing.

  1. Encourage your child to look at you when you talk

Children learn through their senses.  Therefore a child should look, listen and hear, even feel when you are talking to him/her.  This will ensure that the message will be understood better.

  1. Improve the quality of the interaction

This can be done by using language which your child understands and talking about their interests and on their level of understanding. Give the child time to listen, give them verbal praise for every response and look interested in what they are saying. Don’t ask to many direct questions, instead just talk to your child and them lead the conversation.

  1. Use everyday activities

Use every day activities to talk to your child, such as; mealtime, bath time, dressing time, house cleaning, cooking, baking a cake, bed time and book reading time. While you are doing these activities you should explain and describe what you are doing.  This will improve your child’s vocabulary, logical thinking and sentence structure.

  1. Remember your language level.

Keep in mind when you are helping to develop your child’s language that he understands better than the language that he/she can produce. Therefore, even though he is able to follow a simple command such as:” Sit down”, he/she may not necessarily be able to say it yet. Therefore, in the beginning phases of language learning, try to stick to key words and phrases to make it easier for your child to imitate you. Once a basic one-word vocabulary is established, two-word utterances can start to be modelled. Remember that if your language level is too high for your child, it is unlikely that he will benefit from your language, even if your pronunciation is good. Also, be mindful to use short, single syllable words in the beginning as these will be easier to imitate.

  1. Watching, waiting and listening.

As much as we want our children to learn from us, we sometimes don’t give them a chance to express themselves adequately. This means that if you would like your child to listen to you and follow your example in some cases; you have to do the same for him/her. It is difficult for parents to do this at times, but it is important that you learn to take a step back and allow your child to take the lead in communicating or other activities. You are still able to add language to any activity, but your child dictates what is happening during that particular game, etc.

  1. Add Language.

You can also improve your child’s language by adding to the language they are already using. E.g. if your child sees a car and says: “car”, you can add to his/her language by saying: “Yes, it’s a big car.” That way you are feeding back to your child what he/she has already said and will also let him/her know that you have listened and welcome further feedback from them. The more this is done, the better and more comfortable your child will be to communicate with you.

  1. The environment.

Be mindful of the environment and the stimulation which your child is exposed to. A lack of stimulation can be just as detrimental to your child’s development as over- or inappropriate stimulation. TV is NOT a form of language learning. Remember that the environment in which they learn has an impact on how they learn.


See Milestones for ages 3 – 14

Phonological Awareness

Phonological awareness refers to child’s awareness of the sound structure of spoken words. These are important precursor skills to later reading and writing ability. It involves the recognition and manipulation of phonemes, syllables and words by identifying, comparing, separating, combining, generating sounds/words. The skills will give children the ability to read correctly the words that they’ve never seen before and to spell words correctly without memorizing the spelling.

The skills may include the following areas:

How to identify when Phonological Awareness may be a problem:

Phonological Awareness Activities

Read more…


Stuttering is a communication disorder in which the rhythm or fluency of the flow of speech is broken down and where there is a disruption in speech. When it takes effort to speak, it may cause unusual facial and body movements. This disorder affects rate, pitch, loudness, inflectional patterns, articulation, facial expression as well as postural adjustments and fluency.

Causes  of stuttering?

The development of stuttering:

How can parents help their child?

Read more…