Early Learning and Child Care Renfrew County

Language & Literacy

Developmental Milestones

Derived from Preschool Speech and Language Program, www.children.gov.on.ca

By 6 months

  • Turns to source of sounds
  • Startles in response to sudden, loud noises
  • Makes different cries for different needs
  • Watches your face as you talk
  • Smiles and laughs in response to your smiles and laughs
  • Imitates coughs or other sounds –ah, eh, buh

By 9 months

  • Responds to his/her name
  • Responds to the telephone ringing or a knock at the door
  • Understands being told ‘no’
  • Gets what he/she wants through gestures e.g., reaching to be picked up
  • Enjoys being around people
  • Babbles and repeats sounds-babababa, duhduhduh

By 12 months

  • Follows simple one-step directions –‘sit down’
  • Looks across the room to something you point to
  • Consistently uses three to five words
  • Uses gestures to communicate –waves ‘bye bye’, shakes head ‘no’
  • Gets your attention using sounds, gestures and pointing while looking at your eyes
  • Brings you toys to show you
  • ‘Performs’ for attention and praise
  • Combines lots of sounds as though talking –abada baduh abee
  • Shows interest in simple picture books

By 18 months

  • Understands the concepts of in and out, off and on
  • Points to several body parts when asked
  • Uses at least 20 words consistently
  • Responds with words or gesture to simple questions –“Where’s teddy bear?”, “What’s that?”
  • Demonstrates some pretend play with toys –gives teddy a drink, pretends a bowl is a hat
  • Makes at least four different consonant sounds –p,b,m,n,d,g,w,h
  • Enjoys being read to and looking at simple books with you
  • Points to pictures using one finger

By 24 months

  • Follows two-step directions –“Go find your teddy bear and show it to Grandma”
  • Uses 100 to 150 words
  • Uses at least two pronouns –“you”, “me”, “mine”
  • Consistently combines two to four words in short phrases –“daddy hat”, “truck go down”
  • Enjoys being with other children
  • Begins to offer toys to peers and imitates other children’s actions and words
  • People can understand his/her words 50 to 60 percent of the time
  • Forms words and sounds easily and effortlessly
  • Holds books the right way up and turns pages
  • “reads” to stuffed animals or toys
  • Scribbles with crayons

By 30 months

  • Understands the concepts of size (big/little) and quantity (a little, a lot, more)
  • Uses some adult grammar –“two cookies”, “bird flying”, “I jumped”
  • Uses more than 350 words
  • Uses action words –run, spill, fall
  • Begins taking short turns with other children, using both toys and words
  • Shows concern when another child is hurt or sad
  • Combines several actions in play –feeds doll then puts her to sleep; puts blocks in train then drives train and drops blocks off
  • Puts sounds at the start of most words
  • Produces words with two or more syllables or beats –“ba-na-na”, “com-pu-ter”, “a-pple”
  • Recognizes familiar logos and signs –McDonalds golden arches, stop sign
  • Remembers and understands familiar stories

By age 3

  • Understands “who, “what”, “where” and “why” questions
  • Creates long sentences, using 5 to 8 words
  • Talks about past events –trip to grandparents’ house, day at childcare
  • Tells simple stories
  • Shows affection for favourite playmates
  • Engages in multi-step pretend play –cooking a meal, repairing a car
  • Is understood by most people outside of the family, most of the time
  • Is aware of the function of print –in menus, lists, signs

By age 4

Follows directions involving 3 or more steps –“First get some paper, then draw a picture, last give it to mom”

  • Uses adult-type grammar
  • Tells stories with a clear beginning, middle and end
  • Talks to try to solve problems with adults and other children
  • Demonstrates increasingly complex imaginative play
  • Is understood by strangers almost all of the time
  • Is able to generate simple rhymes –“cat-bat”
  • Matches some letters with their sounds –“letter T says ‘tuh’”

By age 5

  • Follows group directions –“all the boys get a toy”
  • Understands directions involving “if...then” –“if you’re wearing runners, then line up for gym”
  • Describes past, present and future events in detail
  • Seeks to please his/her friends
  • Shows increasing independence in friendships –may visit neighbour by him/herself
  • Uses almost all of the sounds of their language with few to no errors
  • Knows all the letters of the alphabet
  • Identifies the sounds at the beginning of some words –“Pop start with ‘puh’ sounds”