Developmental Charts

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Speech Sound Acquisition

Speech Sound Acquisition Chart

Click here to return to the previous page. Source:  Sander, Eric K. "When Are Speech Sounds Learned?" JSHD, 37  (February 1972). 


We like this chart because it illustrates that there is a wide range of "normal/typical" development. The left edge of the bar represents the age at which kids start to master sounds and the right edge shows the age at which 90% of kids have mastered the sounds.  An SLP may not consider a sound delayed until after the upper age limit for mastery has been reached.  Please use the charts here as a general guideline for what sounds you might expect of your child. 


Developmental Milestones

Communication / Language Age Level Cognitive / Play
  • Laughing
  • Babbling with intonation
  • Looks for sounds and voices
  • Smiles at self in mirror
  • Vocalizes or moves to show wants activity to continue
  • Uses toys as play items
  • Seeks things partly hidden
  • Smiles, vocalizes, moves body to continue activity
  • Aware of daily routines
  • Speaks first word (mama, da, baba)
  • Moves hands or body to music
  • Imitates sounds other than speech
  • Babbling has inflection
  • Exploring environment
  • Looking at pictures in books
  • Uses toys together (spoon in bowl)
  • Pulls a string to get toy
  • Puts objects in/out of bins
  • Uses several words, gestures to indicate wants and needs
  • Names familiar objects
  • Points to body parts, familiar items, pictures in books
  • Follows simple directions
  • Plays peek-a-boo
  • Starts parallel play
  • Shows compassion and humor
  • Uses one toy with different actions
  • Follows simple directions like "hand it to me"
  • Likes chasing games and an audience
  • Starts combining words
  • Uses pronouns my, mine
  • Asks simple questions
  • Imitates animal sounds, speech sounds, words
  • Follows two-step directions
  • Rapid vocabulary growth
  • Matches objects, sorts shapes, nests toys
  • Engages in pretend play
  • Matches objects and pictures
  • Remembers locations of objects
  • Plays alone for 10 minutes
  • Understands 500 words
  • Uses 300-400 words
  • Uses compound and complex sentences
  • Uses new parts of speech: verbs, adjectives, past tense, spatial terms, in, on, on top, under
  • Repeats rhymes
  • Comprehends WH-questions
  • Matches shapes, colors, size
  • Understands how many objects are used
  • Stacks toys
  • Counts to three
  • Knows daily routines
  • Concepts one/all
  • Listens to stories
  • Gives basic personal information
  • Greets others
  • Understands story sequences
  • Asks many questions
  • Expresses feelings in pretend play
  • Names colors
  • Tells a story
  • Understands comparatives (smaller, longer, bigger)
  • Names shapes and colors
  • Understands part to whole relationships
  • Understands same/different
  • Plays with others, shares
  • Expanding attention span


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Developmental Phonemic Awareness

It is typical for children to demonstrate a large degree of variance in mastering the specific phonemic awareness skills. General norms for acquisition do not dictate the skills your child is or is not ready to learn. The levels are a guideline for the skills that may be expected within a developmental range.

Pre-School — Kindergarten First Grade
Rhyming Syllables Phonemes

Identification: yes/no

Syllable Segmentation: Counting 1-2-3

Segmenting Sounds: verbally tell beginning sounds of words

Verbally tells rhymes

Verbalizing the actual syllables of words

Verbally tell ending sounds of words

Fill in the blank

Blending syllables verbally

Verbally tell middle sounds of words

Nonsense rhymes

Segmenting compound words

Begin manipulating sounds in words: adding, subtracting, counting how many and verbally saying each sound

Listening to phoneme games

Blending compound words

Grouping words by sound beginning/ ending, same/different

In second grade kids typically progress to blending and sound substitutions, changing consonant and vowel sounds as well as switching sounds in words.

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