Speech Sound Development Checklist

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Speech Sound Development Checklist

Individual speech sounds develop gradually, and there is a hierarchy of sounds where some sounds develop earlier than others.  The following is a guideline for approximate ages for specific sound development:

By age 3 – 4:

  • p, b, m, h, w
  • f, k, g
  • y (as in yes), ng

By age 6:

  • s, z, sh (as in ‘shoe’)
  • ch (as in chair), j (as in jump),
  • v
  • l (lamp)

By age 7:

  • Consistency with /l/ and l-blends (as in ‘flower’ and ‘slide’)
  • zh (as in ‘azure’)
  • ‘th’ (think, mother)
  • /r/ and r-blends (as in ‘frog’)

By age 8-9:

  • All speech sounds should be produced correctly (adult-like speech production for all sounds)


You may have heard the term ‘lisp.’  What is a “LISP”?

A very common error is the production of /s/.  There are two types of ‘lisps’ where the /s/ (and often the /z/) will sound slushy and unclear.  A lateral lisp is an incorrect production of /s/ or /z/ whereby the child allows air to escape over the sides of her tongue resulting in a “slushy” sounding /s/ or /z/.  An interdental lisp occurs when the child protrudes her tongue past between the front teeth which results in a /th/ sound substitution (e.g. “thing” for “sing”).

It is recommended that a child producing either type of lisp be assessed by a Speech-Language Pathologist.  This speech error will often persist long past age 8 and becomes more difficult to treat the longer it goes unaddressed.

If at any time you have a question or concern surrounding your child’s speech and/or language development, please speak with your child’s teacher and /or the Learning Strategies team at Branksome Hall.

Taken from: A. Pena-Brooks and M. Hedge, in Assessment and Treatment of Articulation and Phonological Disorders in Children, 2000, Austin TX: PRO-ED.

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