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3 Years

At age three years, your child should:

  • Use short sentences to announce what he or she is doing or has done
  • Ask "What?" questions frequently
  • Answer yes or no questions correctly
  • Have a vocabulary of 900 to 1,000 words
  • Give name, sex and age and be able to sing several nursery rhymes
  • Use regular past tense markers (i.e., "walked," "looked")
  • Use "is," "are" and "am" in sentences
  • Use the following pronouns: I, me
  • Begin to obey prepositional phrases like "Put the block under the chair"
  • Express fatigue verbally
  • Present speech that is 50 - 75% intelligible
  • Produce "m, n, ng, p, f, h and w"
  • Stay with an activity eight or nine minutes

At age three your child may:

  • Tell a simple story, mixing real and unreal facts
  • Use the following pronouns: he, she, you, me, I, mine
  • Understand "yesterday," "summer," "lunchtime," '"tonight"
  • Talk when playing alone
  • Continue to have easy dysfluent speech

You can stimulate the speech and language development of your three-year-old by:

  • Using words he or she has trouble with frequently in your speech
  • Talking about similarities or differences between things
  • Encouraging your child to tell stories using books and pictures
  • Reading longer stories to your child
  • Paying attention to your child when he or she is talking, remembering that repeating words and sounds is normal during this period of growth
  • Allowing your child to play with other children

Some specific activities are:

  • Talking with your child about the attributes of objects; for example, when playing with a toy car, talk about the color, the size, the sound it makes, etc.
  • Singing nursery rhymes with physical movements, such as "Ring Around the Rosey"
  • Exposing your child to different surroundings and the vocabulary that would be used in them; using vocabulary words to describe what is going on when: you go on a walk, go shopping, plant a garden or clean the house

If you are concerned that your child may not be developing these skills as he or she should, you may seek the advice of a speech-language pathologist.