Milestones for 4-year-olds

Cosy book time

As your child grows, they’ll be able to say, do and understand more and more. Around the age of 4, lots of children go to nursery. They can understand and say lots of words and sentences now. You can see them using their speech to meet new friends, work out problems and find things out by asking lots of questions.

Taking part

Your four-year-old will be able to take turns and will be starting to share with adults and other children. They will enjoy playing with other children and can start a conversation.

Your child will listen to longer stories and answer simple questions about a story they have just heard.

Four-year-olds start to enjoy simple jokes – though often their own jokes make little sense.

Here are some questions to help you think about how your little one is getting on:

  • Does your child like to play and talk with others?
  • Does your child enjoy sharing books with you, especially ones with rhymes?
  • Is your child starting to be able to plan games with others?


Copy: Your child will understand more and more of what people are saying. They will follow instructions with four key words or in two parts, for example: “Get your coat and stand by the door”. They will understand ‘why’ questions and questions about past and future events.


Copy: At this age, children can explain their ideas, talk in sentences and talk about things that have happened in the past. They can use longer sentences and link sentences together, for example: “I had pizza for tea and then I played in the garden.”

They can answer questions about ‘why’ something has happened.

They will use most sounds correctly, but may still have difficulty with “th”, “r”, “sh”, “ch” and “j”. Children of this age still find sounds in words with several syllables tricky, like ‘escalator’. Mistakes where words have groups of consonants are still common, like “bider” instead of “spider”.


It is important to remember that all children are different, and your child may develop at a faster or slower rate than others. If your child has a nanny, childminder or goes to nursery, talk to them. It is always helpful to have information about how your child talks and communicates in other places.

If you are concerned about your child’s speech, language and communication development, you should contact your health visitor, children’s centre or local speech and language therapist. You can contact a speech and language therapist yourself. You can get free resources at