4-5 Years

If your 4-year-old is developing his communication skills normally, he will probably talk off your ear about topics of interest! He will use long and complex sentences and understand most of what is said to him. He will still be learning lots of new words and be a keen, inquisitive learner.

Before reading through these milestones, you should read this.

By 5 years your child should:

Listening and Understanding

  • Enjoy stories
  • Understand most of what is said to her
  • Have simple time concepts: morning, afternoon, night, day, later, after, yesterday
  • Understand words such as “first”, “next” and “last”
  • Follow longer instructions eg. “Get your bag and shoes, then meet me at the front door”.
  • Hear and understand most of what is said at (pre)school

Speech Sounds and Talking

  • Use many describing words (adjectives and adverbs) – eg. soft, colourful, quickly, round.
  • Know common opposites: big-little, hard-soft, heavy-light, etc.
  • Tell a short story
  • Be able to be understood 100% of the time by strangers, even if there are a few sounds that he can’t say, such as th and v.
  • Keep a conversation going
  • Use long and complex sentences
  • Use future tense – eg. “she WILL go”
  • Talk in different ways depending on the listener and place. Eg. talk louder outside than inside and use shorter sentences with younger children.

 Social Skills

  • Negotiate solutions to problems
  • Talk about his interests and feelings


  • Follow rules during board games and card games
  • Play imaginatively eg. dress-ups and cooking.

For more information

This information is not intended to replace the recommendations of a Speech Pathologist for an individual with a communication impairment. If you have concerns about your child’s speech and language development, please contact a Speech Pathologist.