According to the most recent research, here are helpful articulation norms. To understand these norms, read that 90% of children the age listed have acquired the sounds on that line and below:
Age 6: th (voiceless)
Age 5: r, zh, th (voiced)
Age 4: l, j, ch, s, v, sh, z
p, b, m, d, n, h, t, k, g, w, ng, f, y (McLeod & Crowe, 2018)
Looking at charts like this is all well and good but what does this mean for your child? Isn’t it cute when preschoolers mispronounce certain words?? The short answer is that while it can be secretly adorable at times, difficulty acquiring new sounds can snowball into much bigger problems.
Untreated articulation disorders can cause difficulties down the road with reading and writing. Articulation disorders can also occur alongside phonological awareness disorders. Phonological awareness disorders involve children not being able to correctly hear and identify sounds, especially those they mispronounce. This can cause major issues with writing and spelling.
In addition to academic concerns, research has shown that difficulties with articulation can cause a lack of self-esteem and trouble with oral presentations and interactions with others.
Many children are blissfully ignorant of their speech struggles but others are painfully aware. Whether or not a child is upset by their speech should not decide qualification for therapy. Early intervention is always better. Incorrect speech patterns can become habitual and difficult to unlearn.
If your child has not met these norms, you cannot understand them, or if they are frustrated because they are often misunderstood, please contact a professional speech-language pathologist as soon as you are able! There are many options for treatment as well as financial assistance for families who may not be able to afford therapy. Either you will find out your child’s speech is progressing appropriately OR you will find out intervention is needed and your child can start on a path to better clarity. That sounds like a win-win to me! Use the contact form on my website to ask questions!