Children often master their "R"s around 8 years old, so experts call R the "late 8". However, in our experience most children will naturally acquire this sound well before that time and waiting that long (or longer) to get it fixed just makes it harder!
The reason some children easily acquire R on their own and other children do not can depend on a few things. Maybe your child has some low muscle tone through their lips, mouth, tongue and/or jaw (see our article here about fun activities you can do at home to strengthen up your child’s oral musculature). If your child needed help acquiring other sounds before R, it is likely they may need help with this tough sound.
So What Sounds Should My 4 Year Old Have?
By 4 years old your child should be able to easily produce the following sounds all the time in conversation: H, M, B, P, W, F, V, K, G, L, Blends (e.g., two sounds together-- PL, SN, etc).
Most children by 4 years old will also have later developing sounds, such as: S, Z, SH, CH, J, Y, TH and of course, R and R blends (e.g., GR, BR, PR, etc).
Another important marker to think about is how intelligible your child is (i.e., how much can other people understand what your child says). A child of 4 years old should be at least 85% intelligible-- meaning people should understand at least 85% of what your child says, regardless of if the context is known or unknown.
If your child is having difficulty acquiring sounds at the appropriate times and others have a hard time understanding your child, speech therapy can help! Not only will speech therapy help your child acquire the sounds they are missing and help with their overall intelligibility, it can also help your child with their future academic skills.
Did you know children with articulation issues often have trouble with their pre-reading and reading skills? Speech therapy can help prevent and even work on these issues for your child.
If you are having concerns about your child’s development reach out to us at The Speech Space! We offer free screenings, which take approximately 30 minutes, and can help identify potential problems.