• Your Child's Communication Development: Kindergarten Through Fifth Grade

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

    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)

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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
     
    ...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