Speech and Language Milestones For a 3-Year Old

Enrichment Therapies

June 15, 2023

Young child smiling

By: Meghan Randig, M.A., CCC-SLP

Communication is multifaceted and looks a little bit different for every child. However, there are some general language abilities and milestones we can expect to see by a certain age. The following is an outline of language skills that most three-year-olds display.  

Expressive Skills

Expressive language abilities relate to what your child produces (verbal speech, gestures, etc.).

  • Combines 3-4 words in a phrase or sentence
  • Uses many of these sounds: /b, p, t, d, m, n, h, g, k, f, w/ and all vowels
  • Is about 75% intelligible to an unfamiliar person (e.g., your neighbor, family friend, etc. can understand about 75% of what your child says)
  • Says their first and last name 
  • Uses nouns, verbs, and pronouns in spontaneous (non-imitated) speech (e.g., My ball rolls)
  • Uses all words like “a”, “the”, “am”, “is”, and “are” in sentences
  • Can tell at least three items from a common category (e.g., Tell me something you can eat)
  • Tells at least two things about an object (e.g., Tell me about your toy)

Receptive Skills

Receptive language abilities are related to what your child understands.

  • Follows 3-step commands independently 
  • Can identify which object is the smallest from a group of three
  • Understands pronouns (e.g., me, your, my)
  • Answers a variety of wh- questions (e.g., what, where, when, why, who)
  • Identifies parts of an object (e.g., body parts or things that you wear)

Play Skills

Play comprises expressive and receptive language, as well as the social-emotional component of language.

  • Pretends to be someone or something else
  • Takes reciprocal turns during a game
  • Counts one-to-one correspondence 
  • Participates in a play scheme for at least one minute with a familiar adult 

It is important to remember that every child develops at their own rate. If your three-year-old has not mastered everything on this list, do not worry. If you do have concerns with your child’s language development, consider a consultation, screening, or evaluation with a speech-language pathologist to get your questions answered. 

ETLC Offers Individualized Speech Support

Enrichment Therapy & Learning Center provides individualized speech and language support in the Iowa City, IA area and Des Moines, IA area. At Enrichment Therapy & Learning Center, our passion is to help kids achieve effective communication skills and gain academic success. Contact us for more information on how we can help your child succeed.

info@enrichmenttherapies.com

740 Community Drive, Suite A

North Liberty, IA 52317

319-626-2553

 infodm@enrichmenttherapies.com

5530 West Pkwy, Suite 300

Johnston, IA 50131

515-419-4270

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