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Child Developmental Topic Listening, talking and talking some more Stages: 3 to 5 years

What’s going on for baby?

Listening, talking and talking some more

Although language ability varies, by the age of 3 many tamaiti will be using 4-word sentences.

Their vocabulary increases depending on the amount and quality of the language they hear, and the conversations they have.

People familiar to them can understand their speech most of the time.

They can recite rhymes and songs and tell stories that may mix up reality and make-believe.

They’ll ask lots of questions.

They’ll enjoy playing with language, repeating phrases, making up rhymes and making up silly words.

They’ll use language to enter a fantasy world.

Singing songs is another fun way for them to use language.

By the time they’re 5 they’ll be understood by most people.

However, they may still stumble over some words. Sounds such as ‘s’ and ‘th’ could still be developing, but this doesn’t always mean a long-term problem. With growth and practice they should master all the sounds in the language of their whānau.

They’re on the way to using plurals accurately.

Picture books remain popular and they’re likely to have their favourites, which they may want to hear over and over again.

Their ability to concentrate is strengthened through book sharing.

How can parents and whānau help?

  • Have conversations about what’s going on around them, the people they meet and what they’re doing.
  • Tell stories and encourage them to join in the telling.
  • Model accurate grammar and plurals.
  • Join in games and add in new ideas to conversations.
  • Listen patiently, giving them time to say what they’re trying to get out.
  • Have fun reading books together, and talk about the story and the characters in it.
  • Add extra words to extend vocabulary.
  • Have fun with words and sounds. Talk about words that rhyme or start with the same sound.
  • Look for ways to increase the number of words they use, especially about new experiences they are having.
  • Books have many uses. Stories can entertain, teach tamariki about the world, calm their fears, show families going through similar events, comfort them and make them laugh.
  • When reading together, check in with them by asking questions like, ‘What do you think that word means?’ ‘What do you think is going to happen next?’
  • Make your own books with them by writing the story together.
  • Point out letters and words everywhere, such as traffic signs, street names and brand names.
  • Libraries are free and books are readily available. Sitting and reading with a child can be one of life’s joys — for both of you.

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