Talking to 9-12 year olds

At this age kids are becoming more confident with their talking and listening.

They are also learning how to share their thoughts and ideas in a range of situations – not just home and school.

Reading and writing takes up more of their school time. But talking and listening skills are still very important.

Your child should be talking clearly and fluently at this age. If you have any concerns, don’t delay in getting some help.

What can kids usually do by 9-10?


  • Speak up when they haven’t understood.
  • Maintain eye contact and offer feedback and encouragement to their friends.
  • Understand inferred meaning. For example, if someone says “I’m freezing”, they understand they should turn on the heater.


  • Confidently share their opinions about books, TV shows or whatever interests them.
  • Understand conversational rules. For example, adds more or less detail based on listener’s response.

What can kids usually do by 11-12?


  • Listen to what is being said and the way it is said. For example, is the speaker being serious, sarcastic or funny when they are talking?
  • Understand common sayings. For example, “I couldn’t keep a straight face”.


  • Use a wide range of words and understand the meaning of the language they use. For example, leap instead of jump, terrified instead of scared.
  • Tell elaborate and engaging stories, which are full of descriptions.
  • Understand when they have to use formal language rather than informal. For example, talking to the school principal versus talking to their friends.

This is just a guide for what you can expect. 

Every child develops at their own rate. Your child may be faster or slower at talking and listening than others. 

If you have any concerns about your child, talk to their teacher or your family doctor. Find out what to look out for to see if your child needs extra help with speech and communication.

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