The current investigation examined the developmental changes involved in processing semantic context in auditorily presented sentences, as well as underlying attentional and suppression mechanisms. Thirty-nine typically developing school-aged children aged 6;0–14;0 years participated in the current cross-sectional sentential auditory word repetition study. Component processes involved in auditory word recognition were examined and their respective developmental trajectories systematically delineated. Experimental manipulations included semantic congruity (congruous, incongruous), sentence constraint (high, low), cloze probability (high, low), and processing mode. High sentence constraints elicited top-down pre-potency type effects, which resulted in active suppression of anticipated cloze words and longer naming latencies of perceived cloze words when violated with conflicting bottom-up information. In addition, developmental changes in component processes reflected underlying changes in attention, with evidence that suppression mechanisms remained relatively constant with age. Findings are interpreted in line with the Trace (McClelland and Elman in Cogn Psychol 18(1):1–86, 1986) model of auditory word recognition.