http://www.asha.org/public/speech/development/communicationdevelopment.htm

What should I expect my child’s speech and language development to be during elementary school?

Use this guide! Choose a grade level to learn about common developmental milestones and school expectations for children at that level.

■Kindergarten

By the end of kindergarten your child should be able to do the following:

Listening

■Follow 1-2 simple directions in a sequence
■Listen to and understand age-appropriate stories read aloud
■Follow a simple conversation

Speaking

■Be understood by most people
■Answer simple “yes/no” questions
■Answer open-ended questions (e.g., “What did you have for lunch today?”)
■Retell a story or talk about an event
■Participate appropriately in conversations
■Show interest in and start conversations

Reading

■Know how a book works (e.g., read from left to right and top to bottom in English)
■Understand that spoken words are made up of sounds
■Identify words that rhyme (e.g., cat and hat)
■Compare and match words based on their sounds
■Understand that letters represent speech sounds and match sounds to letters
■Identify upper- and lowercase letters
■Recognize some words by sight
■”Read” a few picture books from memory
■Imitate reading by talking about pictures in a book

Writing

■Print own first and last name
■Draw a picture that tells a story and label and write about the picture
■Write upper- and lowercase letters (may not be clearly written)

■First grade

By the end of first grade your child should be able to do the following:

Listening

■Remember information
■Respond to instructions
■Follow 2-3 step directions in a sequence

Speaking

■Be easily understood
■Answer more complex “yes/no” questions
■Tell and retell stories and events in a logical order
■Express ideas with a variety of complete sentences
■Use most parts of speech (grammar) correctly
■Ask and respond to “wh” questions (who, what, where, when, why)
■Stay on topic and take turns in conversation
■Give directions
■Start conversations

Reading

■Create rhyming words
■Identify all sounds in short words
■Blend separate sounds to form words
■Match spoken words with print
■Know how a book works (e.g., read from left to right and top to bottom in English)
■Identify letters, words, and sentences
■Sound out words when reading
■Have a sight vocabulary of 100 common words
■Read grade-level material fluently
■Understand what is read

Writing

■Express ideas through writing
■Print clearly
■Spell frequently used words correctly
■Begin each sentence with capital letters and use ending punctuation
■Write a variety of stories, journal entries, or letters/notes

■Second grade

By the end of second grade your child should be able to do the following:

Listening

■Follow 3-4 oral directions in a sequence
■Understand direction words (e.g., location, space, and time words)
■Correctly answer questions about a grade-level story

Speaking

■Be easily understood
■Answer more complex “yes/no” questions
■Ask and answer “wh” questions (e.g., who, what, where, when, why)
■Use increasingly complex sentence structures
■Clarify and explain words and ideas
■Give directions with 3-4 steps
■Use oral language to inform, to persuade, and to entertain
■Stay on topic, take turns, and use appropriate eye contact during conversation
■Open and close conversation appropriately

Reading

■Have fully mastered phonics/sound awareness
■Associate speech sounds, syllables, words, and phrases with their written forms
■Recognize many words by sight
■Use meaning clues when reading (e.g., pictures, titles/headings, information in the story)
■Reread and self-correct when necessary
■Locate information to answer questions
■Explain key elements of a story (e.g., main idea, main characters, plot)
■Use own experience to predict and justify what will happen in grade-level stories
■Read, paraphrase/retell a story in a sequence
■Read grade-level stories, poetry, or dramatic text silently and aloud with fluency
■Read spontaneously
■Identify and use spelling patterns in words when reading

Writing

■Write legibly
■Use a variety of sentence types in writing essays, poetry, or short stories (fiction and nonfiction)
■Use basic punctuation and capitalization appropriately
■Organize writing to include beginning, middle, and end
■Spell frequently used words correctly
■Progress from inventive spelling (e.g., spelling by sound) to more accurate spelling

■Third grade

By the end of third grade your child should be able to do the following:

Listening

■Listen attentively in group situations
■Understand grade-level material

Speaking

■Speak clearly with an appropriate voice
■Ask and respond to questions
■Participate in conversations and group discussions
■Use subject-related vocabulary
■Stay on topic, use appropriate eye contact, and take turns in conversation
■Summarize a story accurately
■Explain what has been learned

Reading

■Demonstrate full mastery of basic phonics
■Use word analysis skills when reading
■Use clues from language content and structure to help understand what is read
■Predict and justify what will happen next in stories and compare and contrast stories
■Ask and answer questions regarding reading material
■Use acquired information to learn about new topics
■Read grade-level books fluently (fiction and nonfiction)
■Reread and correct errors when necessary

Writing

■Plan, organize, revise, and edit
■Include details in writing
■Write stories, letters, simple explanations, and brief reports
■Spell simple words correctly, correct most spelling independently, and use a dictionary to correct spelling
■Write clearly in cursive

■Fourth grade

By the end of fourth grade your child should be able to do the following:

Listening

■Listen to and understand information presented by others
■Form opinions based on evidence
■Listen for specific purposes
Speaking

■Use words appropriately in conversation
■Use language effectively for a variety of purposes
■Understand some figurative language (e.g., “the forest stretched across…”)
■Participate in group discussions
■Give accurate directions to others
■Summarize and restate ideas
■Organize information for clarity
■Use subject area information and vocabulary (e.g., social studies) for learning
■Make effective oral presentations
Reading

■Read for specific purposes
■Read grade-level books fluently
■Use previously learned information to understand new material
■Follow written directions
■Take brief notes
■Link information learned to different subjects
■Learn meanings of new words through knowledge of word origins, synonyms, and multiple meanings
■Use reference materials (e.g., dictionary)
■Explain the author’s purpose and writing style
■Read and understand a variety of types of literature, including fiction, nonfiction, historical fiction, and poetry
■Compare and contrast in content areas
■Make inferences from texts
■Paraphrase content, including the main idea and details

Writing

■Write effective stories and explanations, including several paragraphs about the same topic
■Develop a plan for writing, including a beginning, middle, and end
■Organize writing to convey a central idea
■Edit final copies for grammar, punctuation, and spelling

■Fifth grade

By the end of fifth grade your child should be able to do the following:

Listening

■Listen and draw conclusions in subject area learning activities
Speaking

■Make planned oral presentations appropriate to the audience
■Maintain eye contact and use gestures, facial expressions, and appropriate voice during group presentations
■Participate in class discussions across subject areas
■Summarize main points
■Report about information gathered in group activities

Reading

■Read grade-level books fluently
■Learn meanings of unfamiliar words through knowledge of root words, prefixes, and suffixes
■Prioritize information according to the purpose of reading
■Read a variety of literary forms
■Describe development of character and plot
■Describe characteristics of poetry
■Analyze author’s language and style
■Use reference materials to support opinions

Writing

■Write for a variety of purposes
■Use vocabulary effectively
■Vary sentence structure
■Revise writing for clarity
■Edit final copies

■Suggestions for parents and caregivers

…in early elementary grades (K-2):

■Talk with your child frequently
■Read a variety of books; read often and talk with your child about the story
■Help your child focus on sound patterns of words such as those found in rhyming games
■Have your child retell stories and talk about events of the day
■Talk with your child during daily activities; give directions for your child to follow (e.g., making cookies)
■Talk about how things are alike and different
■Give your child reasons and opportunities to write
…in later elementary grades (3-5):

■Continue to encourage reading; find reading material that is of interest to your child
■Encourage your child to form opinions about what he or she hears or reads and relate what is read to experiences
■Help your child make connections between what is read and heard at school, at home, and in other daily activities
■Talk aloud as you help your child understand and solve problems encountered in reading material
■Help your child recognize spelling patterns, such as beginnings and endings of words (e.g., pre- or -ment)
■Encourage your child to write letters, keep a diary, or write stories

Remember, every child is unique and will reach these milestones in different ways and times. The language spoken at home and cultural norms can influence the way that we communicate.

Have concerns? Contact a speech-language pathologist by visiting ASHA’s Find a Professional.