Speech Sound Checklists

Speech Sound Checklist

Developmental Speech Sound Checklists help you observe your child’s verbal or spoken communication development.

Speech develops over time starting from birth when babies cry and make their cute baby sounds. Speech then develops throughout childhood in a fairly predictable pattern until about 6-7 years of age. This is typically when speech sound development is fully developed. The Developmental Milestone Speech Sound Checklist allows you to monitor a child’s speech development.

Speech refers to the how clear a child sounds when they try to talk. There are two major processes involved in speech development in children which the Speech Sound Checklist looks at both:

​                1.    Learning how to actually say or articulate each speech sound in a language.

​Children have to learn where their lips and tongues need to be to make a particular sound. For example, our lips come together then pop out to make the /p/ sound but we use the back of the tongue with an open mouth to say the /g/ sound.

​                2.    Leaning the rules of how to put these sounds together to form words.

​Our Speech sound checklists PDF therefore has two checklists in the one download!

​One Speech Sound checklist looks at the ages children should be able to physically say each particular sound used in the spoken English (Articulation Development Checklist). For example, a 2-year-old is expected to be able to say the /p/ sound but the “th” sound would most likely be too hard for them!

​The other Speech Sound Checklist shows the ages children are expected to conquer the rules of putting sounds together to form words. For example, it is OK if an 18-month-old leaves off the last sound in a word (e.g., they say “ca_” for “cat”). It is not OK if a 4-year-old still does this!

speech sound checklists

Why is completing a Speech Sound Checklist and keeping a check on Speech Sound Development across the ages important?

Keeping an eye on speech clarity ensures that your child’s speech is developmentally on track. Speech clarity refers to how well adults and children can understand your child’s speech. Speech clarity can be affected if speech delays or disorders are present. Being able to produce sounds, words and sentences which are clear and can be easily understood and interpreted by others is vital. Clear speech is needed in order to be able to express basic needs and wants, right through to being able to engage in lengthy conversations.  Keep track by using our Speech Sounds Checklist.

Depending on the extent of the difficulties, unclear speech can impact significantly on the:

  • Development of interactional skills with adults and their peers. They may even stop trying to talk to you and others as they know “no-one is going to understand them anyway”.
  • Development of language skills. This relates to learning to use sentences and express verbally increasingly complex ideas or events. Children may keep using just single words or short phrases as they seem to know the rules of speech are harder use “correctly” as sentences get longer. Speech becomes less intelligible as the number of phonological rules that are inappropriate increase.
  • Development of social skills. A child who is having difficulties being understood can become frustrated and angry. This may lead to behavioural issues.
  • Early literacy skills such as reading and spelling out words. If a child says the /d/ sound instead of a /g/ sound when they are speaking, they may find it hard to learn the letter names and their matching sounds.
speech sounds checklist

Who should Download the Speech Sound Checklists?

Any parent or person that interacts or works with children under 6 years of age. It will also be useful for older children still presenting with unclear speech.

​Did you know that by 3-years-of-age a child’s speech should be 75-100% intelligible by an unfamiliar listener. Mums, Dads and primary carers can often “understand” or guess what children are saying. However, these same people often still have to act as an “interpreter” for their young child when the child is talking to Grandpa, the lady at the shop, friends in a park! This is because the speech is not clear and mum can only guess as she is aware of the context or subject the child is trying to talk about.

​By 3 years-of-age most or ALL of what a child says should be clear. They should rarely need your help to interpret for them due to unclear speech. The Speech Sound Checklists are great starting points if your child is not meeting the level of speech clarity typical for their age. Always contact a Speech Pathologist if you feel concerned about the speech clarity of your child. A speech sound assessment by a Speech Pathologist should also occur if the child is showing notable frustrations at not being understood by other adults or children.

Age Level of Intelligibility of speech typically expected
By 18 months A quarter of their talking is clear
By 24 months About half of what they say is clear
By 36 months 75% , or most of what they say is intelligible

If your worried about your child's development

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