Does your 4 year old
- follow directions involving 3 or more steps – “First get some paper, then draw a picture, last give it to mom?”
- use adult-type grammar?
- tell stories with a clear beginning, middle and end?
- talk to try to solve problems with adults and other children?”
- demonstrate increasingly complex imaginative play?
- talk in a way that is understood by strangers almost all of the time?
- generate simple rhymes – “cat-bat”?
- match some letters with their sounds – “letter T says ‘tuh’?
If your child does not do one or several of the above, First Words can help!
Complete the Communication Checkup
or contact Ottawa Public Health at 613-580-6744 or 613-PARENTS for more information.
Also look out for any of these red flags
- Limited eye gaze and/or limited shared interest in others
- Repeats exactly what you say instead of responding to questions or comments
- Lack of interest in or contact with other children of the same age during play
- Does not look at you when listening or speaking
- Makes noises or uses gestures to show needs instead of using words or sentences
- May talk but what they say may not be relevant to the conversation
- Repetitive play or movement behaviours
- Limited sequenced pretend play
- Any loss of any social and/or language skills
If you have noticed any of these red flags, your child may be dealing with a developmental issue as well as a language delay and will need more support. An immediate referral to the Ottawa Children’s Treatment Centre (OCTC) for a developmental assessment might be required. Contact OCTC at 613-737-0871.
Here are a few quick strategies to help your 4 year old learn to communicate:
- Ask your child questions about things they find interesting.
- Talk about the similarities and differences of toys, rocks, balls, etc.
- Sing songs that end with rhyming words and make up new verses.
- Have conversations about books with your child. When reading to your child, encourage them to guess what the book is about and talk about the different characters.
- Talk about letters and words on cereal boxes and signs (e.g. STOP sign).
- Check out our “Strategies” and “Learning Tools” sections for other strategies and resources!