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),
- 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.