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Child 5-12 years

Child 5-12 years

By the age of 5 / 6 children have developed good communication skills and are able to use their language for many different functions. Speech, language and communication skills are vital at this stage as they help develop literacy and reading skills.

Through school life children should meet some speech, language and communication milestones at different ages.

Speech, language and communication milestones

By 5-6 years

By now children will start to use their phonological skills to help them with recognising sounds a deciphering written letters and words. Children should also meet the following milestones:

  • Can focus on one item for a longer period without being reminded.
  • Will rely less on pictures to learn new words.
  • Can understand longer instructions that contain 2-3 parts e.g. go downstairs, open the fridge, and take out your drink.
  • Can understand that words can be grouped e.g. animals, clothes, food.
  • Can name items such as clothing, animals or characters from familiar books / programmes by their description.
  • Will make themselves clearly understood, by using more specific terminology e.g. I don’t want to wear my stripey socks I want the blue dotty ones.
  • Will have speech that is clearly understood, may have a few immaturities.
  • Will start to understand and recognise different sounds which will help in the development of reading, e.g. what sound comes at the start of a word.
  • Will acknowledge words that sound alike or rhyme.
  • Can use some irregular verbs e.g. she drank my milk.
  • Can use conjunctions to join sentences.
  • Can use language to reason and persuade adults or other children e.g. can I play with it now because you’ve had a long turn.
  • Can retell favourite stories using a combination of exact repetition and their own words.
  • Will join in and organise role play scenarios with friends.
  • Will pretend play and talk as if they are somebody else.
  • Will give detail in information that they know will influence the listener.

By 7 years

Children will now understand multiple complex instructions, will ask several questions and will continue to learn new vocabulary and use it appropriately. By this age children should reach the following milestones:

  • Will be aware that if they do not understand they need to ask for clarification.
  • Will understand complex 2-3 part instruction e.g. choose a friend from school, think about how they make you feel, write down your thoughts in your books.
  • Can name items, objects, animals by s description of their size, shape and function.
  • Will use newly learnt words in an appropriate manner.
  • Will have clear speech with no speech sound errors unless it is a regional dialect or accent e.g. pronouncing the /th/ in brother as /v/.
  • Will be able to split word up into sounds to help spell or read them.
  • Is able to count the amount syllables in a word.
  • Will ask lots of how and why questions.
  • Will tell a story by setting the scene, following a storyline in the correct sequence order.
  • Can sequence an event of their own experience in order.
  • Will be aware of what the listener already knows, will continue to check in to make sure while telling event / story.
  • Can predict what will happen in a story accurately.
  • Will take turns , respond and listen in two way or group conversation.
  • Will use language they have heard being used by peers, will start to become aware of peer / slang language e.g. cool, whatever, in your face.
  • Is aware that different language styles need to be used with different people.
  • May exaggerate aspects of stories or events to make them more exciting.
  • Will talk about topics not directly linked to them or of interest to them in conversations.

By 9 years

Children will have learnt skills such as extracting key information from what is said, ask or give clarification when there is a misunderstanding, will have developed key conversation maintenance skills. Children should also be able to do the following:

  • Will listen to information and should be able to work out which aspects are key and make appropriate related comments.
  • Should be able to identify when they haven’t understood and should ask for specific additional information to clarify.
  • Is able to infer meanings, reasons and predictions from what is being said.
  • Can use a range of words that are related to time and measurement.
  • Can use a wide range of verbs to demonstrate cause and effect or express their thoughts.
  • Will join in discussions with peers or adults about topics, programmes , an activity or visit using terminology related to the topic in hand.
  • Will use a wide range of word endings both regular and irregular.
  • Will use complex grammar and sentences correctly to communicate different language functions e.g. to summarise, plan, clarify and explain.
  • Weill use intonation to support understanding of information.
  • Put expression into voice to put excitement into their storytelling.
  • Is aware of much the listener already knows and will take away or add detail / information accordingly.
  • In familiar situations if appropriate will use formal language can make and maintain a conversation in range of settings and with a range of people by making comments or asking questions related to the topic of discussion.
  • Uses a range of language function in order to build maintain and create friendships e.g. complementing , criticising, negotiating and clarifying.
Children will learn from their peers and have more advanced conversations with one another.

“Children will learn from their peers and have more advanced conversations with one another.”

By 12 years

Children will have a less literal understanding of language and understand idioms, basic sarcasm and jokes. Children should also be able to do the following:

  • Will start to understand sarcasm when it is most obvious.
  • Will understand the different types of questions and will respond accordingly i.e. open ended questions close ended questions and rhetorical questions.
  • Will be able to recognize idioms but won’t always know why they are funny or what they mean.
  • Will attempt to use larger, complex or sophisticated words but won’t always use them correctly.
  • Will be able to use complex conjunctions e.g. meanwhile.
  • Can recognise when a sentence is not grammatically correct.
  • Can tell extravagant and amusing stories or previous / future events that contain sub plots leading up to the main story line.
  • Will negotiate with peers and adults by suggesting other possible options / outcomes.
  • Will recognise when other do not understand and will try to explain.

Speech clinic

We are able to help children with any speech, language or communication difficulties and disorders in order to help children achieve their maximum potential.


How speech and language therapy can help a child with delayed development

Our speech and language therapists have the knowledge and experience to help increase the development of children who may be finding, speech, language or communication difficult. We can provide a range of assessments and an individualised therapy programme to suit the needs of your child and to improve development.

Saliha using Early Talk Boost to help children develop their use of language.

“Saliha using Early Talk Boost to help children develop their use of language.”

Worried about your child's development?

If you are worried about your child’s development, do not hesitate to contact us to speak to one of our passionate speech and language therapists.


If you are concerned about your child’s speech, language and communication development and would like to book an assessment please email office@sltforkids.co.uk or call 0330 088 2298.

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