speech delay

Speech Development Milestones for Kindergarten Readiness

Parents of 5-to-6-year-olds in Southwest Florida are gearing up to get their children ready for a big next step: Kindergarten. While this is an undoubtedly exciting time for everyone, when you have concerns about a child’s speech delay or lagging language development, it’s natural to have some anxiety too.

Beyond simply being a time of transition, kindergarten marks the start of your child’s formal education. It’s also when we see our child’s communication milestones examined under a microscope by educators. Negative feedback might be difficult to hear, but it’s usually worth carefully considering.

Fort Myers pediatric speech therapists at FOCUS preach the importance of early intervention for speech delays and missed language milestones. No matter the underlying issue, it’s rarely resolved by ignoring it. What’s more, it can snowball to affect other areas of development, such as socialization and academic progress. 

As noted in research by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), children do vary widely in their development of speech and language skills (which is why there is no need to panic if you’re child’s skills don’t exactly match up with those of their peers). However, it’s still a good idea to keep a close eye on whether a suspected delay persists. If your child is nearing kindergarten age and you’re concerned they may have a speech delay or language disorder, you should speak to your pediatrician and/ or consider reaching out to FOCUS for a free initial consultation about whether further intervention is necessary.

From a speech therapists’ perspective, there are two areas of development on which we focus:

  • Speech. A child who has trouble producing sounds correctly or who stutter or hesitate when talking might have a speech disorder. For example, childhood apraxia of speech is a type of speech disorder that makes it tough to put syllables and sounds together in the right order to make words.
  • Language. A child who has a hard time understanding what other people are saying to them (receptive language) or trouble sharing their own thoughts (expressive language) may have a language disorder. One example is specific language impairment (SLI), which delays a child’s mastery of language to the point they may not talk until they are 3- or 4-years-old.

Although there is no surefire way to know if your child has a speech delay or language disorder until they are tested for it, the NIDCD compiled a basic checklist for parents of 4-and-5-year-olds to use as a starting point. Children in this age range should be able to:

  • Pay attention to a short story and answer simple questions about it;
  • Hear and understand most of what’s being said at home and in school;
  • Follow multi-step directions (“Go to the drawer, take out the blue crayon and bring it to the table”);
  • Use sentences that give many details;
  • Tell a story that stays on topic;
  • Communicate easily with other children and adults outside their immediate home;
  • Say most sounds correction (some exceptions might include l, s, r, v, z, ch, sh and th);
  • Use or at least understand rhyming words;
  • Use verb tenses correctly;
  • Use appropriate adjectives to describe things (shapes, colors, sizes, etc.);
  • Name some numbers and letters.

We’ll also look for whether they can understand basic concepts of time (tomorrow, later, soon, before, etc.) and whether they can recognize a pattern (critical for helping children grasp basic mathematical concepts).

Kindergarten readiness encompasses a whole scope of developmental milestones, and a language or speech delay now might compound the longer it’s unaddressed. Our experienced, compassionate speech therapists are available to answer your questions and meet with you and your family one-on-one to discuss whether further intervention is necessary.

FOCUS offers pediatric speech therapy in Fort Myers and throughout Southwest Florida. Call (239) 313.5049 or Contact Us online.

Additional Resources:

Speech and Language Developmental Milestones, National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders

More Blog Entries:

Researchers: Speech Disorders Examined Through Songbirds, April 19, 2018, FOCUS Fort Myers Speech Therapy Blog

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