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Milestones in speech, language & literacy development.

Speech, Language & Literacy Milestones
(From 3 Months to Six Years)
& How to Help at Home

BY 3 MONTHS OLD, CHILDREN

  • Turn their head when they hear a familiar voice
  • Become excited when their favorite toys are presented & resist when they’re taken away
  • Make sounds in response to others talking & coo when they’re happy

BY 6 MONTHS OLD, CHILDREN

  • Turn their head when they hear their name & smile and make eye contact with familiar people
  • Change their behavior when they hear “no”
  • Respond appropriately to friendly and angry voices
  • Produce non-speech sounds while playing (e.g., laugh, squeal, etc.)
  • Babble using some of the following consonant sounds: b, d, h, p, w

BY 9 MONTHS OLD, CHILDREN

  • Look toward common objects (e.g., ball, shoe, etc.) when named
  • Pat their image when looking in a mirror & manipulate objects by mouthing, banging, etc.
  • Follow simple directions when shown what to do (e.g., get ball)
  • Wave “bye bye” and shake their head “no”
  • Produce at least 5 consonant sounds & babble using different syllables (e.g., ba ba tee)

BY 12 MONTHS OLD, CHILDREN

  • Respond to music by swaying or dancing
  • Show knowledge of how to use objects (e.g., push buttons on toys)
  • Point to at least one body part when named and understand 5-10 other words
  • Say “mama” or “dada”
  • Babble in a way that sounds like real language, though they use pretend words
  • Invent their own words (e.g., my brother called airplanes “bonia”)

IS YOUR BABY HAVING TROUBLE WITH THE SKILLS ABOVE? TRY THESE STRATEGIES!

  1. Read to them everyday… Children learn through exposure!
  2. Sing nursery rhymes… Books and songs foster language development!
  3. Respond to their coos, gurgles and babbling with excitement
  4. Use simple words and phrases throughout the day to describe what you are doing
  5. Play simple games such as “Peek-a-Boo” and Pat-a-“Cake”
  6. Between 9-12 months, imitate their sounds and actions to teach them to imitate you

BY 15 MONTHS OLD, CHILDREN

  • Point to common objects when named (e.g., Where is the ball?)
  • Imitate animal noises, use sounds and gestures to ask for objects, and say 1-5 real words

BY 18 MONTHS OLD, CHILDREN

  • Use real objects while imitating daily activities (e.g., drink from an empty cup, pretend to shave, etc.)
  • Follow directions containing a verb and a noun (e.g., throw the ball)
  • Will go to another room and bring an object when asked
  • Point to three body parts when named and understand 25-50 other words
  • Use 6-12 real words, though unfamiliar people may not understand them

IS YOUR TODDLER HAVING TROUBLE? TRY THESE STRATEGIES!

  1. Continue reading to your child everyday… It is critical at this age
  2. Play with silly sounds when you see animals, vehicles or other noisy things
  3. Provide experiences that heighten their awareness and interest
  4. When your child has something to say, give them your undivided attention
  5. After 10-15 seconds, suggest a two word phrase, avoiding interruptions

BY 2 YEARS OLD, CHILDREN

  • Act out daily activities on others during play (e.g., feed their teddy bear)
  • Complete a variety of actions on one recipient or the same action on multiple recipients
    • – e.g., feed, burp, and put teddy bear to sleep… or… feed teddy bear, mommy, and daddy
  • Often play alone or alongside others with a limited amount of interaction
  • Point to at least 4 body parts and 5 pictures when named
  • Understand action words and the prepositions “in” and “on”
  • Regularly use 50-200 words and 2-word sentences (e.g., Daddy bye-bye)

BY 3 YEARS OLD, CHILDREN

  • Become imaginative and play with unrelated objects (e.g., sing into a wooden spoon)
  • Follow simple household rules (e.g., don’t touch ___)
  • Understand categories (e.g., clothes vs toys) and the concepts same/different and little/big
  • Understand and ask “what, where, and who” questions
  • Consistently use sentences 3-4 words in length
  • Use the pronouns “I, you, and me” correctly
  • Use “no, not, don’t and can’t”, but it’s ok if they sometimes make mistakes
  • Use the past tense -ed ending, but it’s ok if they sometimes make mistakes
  • Are understood by listeners approximately 90% of the time

IS YOUR TWO OR THREE-YEAR-OLD HAVING TROUBLE? TRY THESE STRATEGIES!

  1. While reading, allow them to pick the book
  2. Point out details within picture pictures to help them understand the story
  3. Use new words to talk about what you are thinking and planning
  4. Have your child practice by asking them to deliver messages to family members
  5. Listen attentively when they talk, avoiding interruptions and corrections
  6. “One-up” their speech… Subtly rephrase their message using one extra word
  7. For difficulty with specific sounds, make a scrapbook of relevant pictures

BY 4 YEARS OLD, CHILDREN

  • Engage in make-believe play… their play involves routines they don’t typically experience
  • Understand the pre-reading concepts of rhyming and alliteration
  • Can clearly and correctly imitate words that are four syllables in length
  • Name colors, shapes, and count up to five objects correctly
  • Use a variety of pronouns, but it’s ok if they sometimes make mistakes
  • Use “and & but” correctly
  • Can answer most questions about their day
  • Regularly use sentences 4-5 words in length

IS YOUR FOUR-YEAR-OLD HAVING TROUBLE? TRY THESE STRATEGIES!

  1. Bedtime stories should be longer now and have a clear beginning, middle and end
  2. While reading, let them guess what will happen before turning the page
  3. Practice sorting items by making piles of different kinds of dishes or clothes
  4. Talk to them as you would anyone else… If they’re not exposed to it, they won’t learn it
  5. Don’t expect perfection, but familiar adults should understand everything they say

BY 5 YEARS OLD, CHILDREN

  • Involve other children in pretend play… one pretends to be a doctor while the other is a patient
  • Name and state the corresponding sound for at least some letters
  • Understand concepts relating to time and space, such as yesterday/tomorrow and near/far
  • Follow multi-step directions
  • Define objects by their use (e.g., Q: What is a fork? A: Something you eat with)
  • Answer simple questions about short paragraphs when read aloud to them
  • Hold conversations, discuss their feelings, and create short, well-structured stories
  • Use the past, present, and future tenses of verbs correctly

IS YOUR FIVE-YEAR-OLD HAVING TROUBLE? TRY THESE STRATEGIES!

  1. Create a reading time for the whole family… After all, children do what their parents do
  2. Celebrate success by giving them a sticker for every book, even if they can’t read yet
  3. Stimulate their thoughts, ideas, and language by allowing them to explore and be creative
  4. Encourage them to express their feelings, dreams, ideas, etc. using open-ended questions
  5. Talk to them as if they were older to encourage learning of advanced words and grammar

BY 6 YEARS OLD, CHILDREN

  • Understand most opposites and the positions “through, away, and toward”
  • Ask about what words mean
  • Use adult-like grammar in sentences and conversations
  • Tell stories with 4-5 different parts, major events, etc.
  • Are understood by everyone, but may have minor trouble with the sounds /l/ and /r/

IS YOUR SIX-YEAR-OLD HAVING TROUBLE? TRY THESE STRATEGIES!

  1. Take turns while reading pages or whole books​
  2. When they make mistakes, be supportive, reassuring and positive!​
  3. Encourage them to read to pets or at a local animal shelter… Everyone will enjoy it​
  4. After fun outings, create picture books or stories about what they found most interesting​
  5. Ask them to remember a list of times you need at a store while running errands​
  6. Ask them to follow simple directions during routine activities (e.g., making dinner)​
  7. Play games that require problem solving, reasoning and conversations (e.g., Sorry, Clue)​
  8. Find quiet time everyday so you you can have a real conversation​