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Language Development of 3 Year Old Child

Education, Intellectual, and Language Milestones

So far, we have written about the physical development and social & emotional development milestones of 3 year old children. In this final part, we'll discuss some of the developments you can expect to see relating to a young child's intellectual and language development achievements. By three years old, most children are able to communicate with good clarity about their thoughts and ideas. They can communicate with you about what they like, dislike, when they are hungry, bored, or tired. They are developing a large vocabulary and beginning to master some of the more complicated matters related to language and speech. Below we'll list some language development milestones.

  • Three year olds are a curious bunch, and they will ask many, many questions. Sometimes, they will ask a chain of questions, one after another. Talk to your child often, and answer the questions they ask in an easy to understand manner.
  • The child can name several colors and is also able to match colors and shapes.
  • The child's language capabilities are quickly developing. By this age, the child may have a vocabulary of around 800 to 1,000 words, and typically use 4 to 6 word sentences to communicate with you. [1]
  • The child may often refer to themselves by their name, for example, "Sarah wants milk please", or, "Susie wants the pink crayon."
  • The child also knows various social words and gestures such as "hello", "hi", "bye", "please", and "thank you".
  • They can communicate clearly with you their needs and wishes, and can also follow multiple step directions such as: "please clean up your toys, and then come sit on your chair to have dinner."

Child Development: Teaching a 3 Year Old to Read

With speech and further intellectual growth and development, it is often an important priority for parents to enhance the intellectual and cognitive development of their children. What's a better way to help a child develop than teaching them to read? Some may wonder if it's possible to really teach a 3 year old child to read, and even if you could, what level of reading ability can a 3 year old really achieve? Please take 2 minutes to watch the video below to see the level of reading skill a 3 year old can achieve.


That's a video of our daughter Raine reading at 3 years old. We began to teach her to read at 2 years and 8 months old. By the time she was 3 years and 9 months old, she had achieved a reading age of 7.5 years, and a 80th percentile of grade 2 level reading based on the Burt word reading test. The benefits of learning to read are numerous: the child develops a very large vocabulary at a young age; the child develops exceptional grammar, language, speech, and literacy skills; the child expands their imagination by reading their favorite books; and most importantly, the child experiences intellectual stimulation and development through the process of learning to read, and reading. Their reasoning, logic, and problem solving abilities all get a big boost from reading. Here's a very funny and endearing thing my daughter said to me one day: "I cannot breath properly because I have booger in my nose. And I am not a booger princess!" This is after I asked her "why are you picking your nose?"

All parents can teach their children to read if they are willing to spend the time and effort, and the rewards of it all is a lifetime advantage for their children. We experimented with different methods, and quickly realized that whole-word reading was a terrible way to teach our kids to read. It simply forced them to memorize, and that's not the way English is meant to be taught. Instead, we started with the simplest elements of the English language, the alphabet names and their corresponding sounds. Then we move on to blending, more complicated words, sentences, and story reading. It all came down to a central goal of helping our kids develop phonemic awareness, an absolute necessity for anyone to become a fast and fluent reader. That's a rather long and lengthy topic that's beyond the scope of our article here. But I hope we've given you some inspiration to start teaching your own young children to read!

You can learn more about how we taught our children to read here.

Baby & Toddler Videos

Toddler Reading Video
Watch a 2 year old toddler read, and see how this child's reading skill develops at 3 and 4 years old.