Supporting your child’s speech development

Communication is the most fundamental life skill for children and young people. The development of language begins even before they are born.


When babies begin to hear the world around them, the most important sound they’ll discover is their parent’s voice. This familiar noise will lay the foundation for their social and emotional development, language and speech. Read advice on supporting your baby’s development during pregnancy.


Birth – 1

From the moment your child enters the world, they begin using sounds and expressing emotions to communicate. Discover some simple actions that will help your child to respond to language cues and formulate their first set of sounds.

1 – 2

Between the ages of 1 and 2, children will typically start to talk, often starting with the simple words they hear a lot such as common foods. Read our guidance on the things you can do to help your child at this stage.


2 – 5

Between 2 and 5, a child’s vocabulary will grow considerably and they will start to ask questions and tell stories. Discover the things you can do to support your child’s development during these years.


Key stage 1

The ability to listen, ask for help and follow instructions with multiple steps often develops in children once they start school. Learn how best to engage your 5 to 7 year old in conversation and to spot the key signs that their speech is developing on track.


Key stage 2

Between the ages of 7 and 11, vocabulary becomes more complex and your child may tell jokes and entertaining stories as well as expressing their feelings more clearly. Read guidance on why it’s important to engage your child on topics they show interest in and give them time to formulate their words.


Key stage 3

Between the ages of 11-14 your child’s speech, language and communication development becomes more gradual and increasingly sophisticated. Learn how to spot the subtle signs that your child’s speech is becoming more refined and increasing in confidence.


Key stage 4

From 14 to 17, your child will continue to develop, using language and communication to form personal relationships, often sharing their feelings without being asked and telling engaging stories. Read our guidance on encouraging continued development.



As they reach adulthood, young people are able to maintain conversations for longer periods of time, confidently follow complex directions and change their language depending on the situation they are in. Explore how you can support them to develop further.