North Carolina Early Learning and Development Progressions: Birth to Five

Skills for ages 21-24 Months

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Language Development and Communication

Understands labels for most common objects, animals, etc.

Understands a variety of action words (e.g., sleep, play, eat, etc.)

Responds to yes/no questions with head nod or shake (e.g., “Do you want juice?” may not nod “yes” until later)

Takes 1-to-2 turns in conversation

Uses 2 -word phrases to communicate

Initiates a topic with one or more words

Intentionally communicates five times per minute

Talks about needs, feelings, and past events with adult help

Answers simple open-ended questions (e.g., “What do you want?")

Requests information with gestures and words (points to and uses “questioning” expression)

Makes statement with rising intonation to ask a question (“Mommy go bye-bye?”)

Speech is at least 50% intelligible to unfamiliar persons

85% of children correctly produce the following: Initial sounds: /b, d, h, m, n, p/ Medial sounds: /b, m, n/ Final sounds: /m, p/

Uses VC (e.g., up), CV (e.g., bye), CVC (e.g., sad), and CVCV (e.g., puppy)

Additional research needed

Names objects

Produces words more than gestures

Produces two-word combinations (e.g., agent-action [ball roll], action-object [roll ball], agent-object [me ball], action-location [ball chair], possessor-possession [my ball]

Directs conversation in dramatic play toward self, dolls, stuffed animals, and an adult

Repeats same events multiple times (cooking, serving)

Produces pronouns

Understands and uses: Agents (e.g., mama) Actions (e.g., run) Objects (e.g., cup) Recurrence (e.g., more) Cessation (e.g., stop) Disappearance (e.g., all gone)

Asks for name of object or location of object (“What’s that?” “Where Daddy?”)

Names parts of objects (e.g., body parts or wheel of car)

Uses categorical vocabulary (e.g., trees, animals, toys, people)

Produces mostly concrete nouns (i.e., can be defined by pointing or acting out)

Understands over 300 words (Less than 50 words at 2 years is a red flag for delay)

Engages in reading behavior by verbalizing while looking at pictures

May use books as a transitional object

Relates pictures in stories to own experiences

Performs an action shown or mentioned in a book

Recites parts of well-known stories, rhymes, and songs

Identifies objects in pictures

Distinguishes print from non-print (e.g., picture or drawing)

Imitates rhyming words (loo-loo, goo-goo) and makes up nonsense words

Makes large continuous circular scribbles, with occasional straight lines

Imitates vertical strokes

Holds crayon with thumb and several fingers

Scribbles without going off of the paper

Imitates drawing a vertical line

Cognitive Development

Uses tools to solve a problem (a fork to stab a bite, a hammer to pound, sifter, funnel)

Demonstrates long-term memory for experiences up to six months previous

Dramatizes remembered events

Verbally describes basic emotions and desires

Knows what will make others laugh and shares humor

Decides not to do something she wants to do, but knows is wrong.

Identifies preference in instrumental music

Prefers using a tool with materials like play dough

Rocks and sings to dolls

Names scribbles as representing something

Combines sand, water for tactile play

Snips with scissors

Dramatizes remembered events, and directs dramatic play to self, doll, and/or adult

Alternates between clinging and resistance to familiar adults

Role plays family routines

Demonstrates prosocial behaviors with everyone

Recognizes and names self, family, and friends in photos

Girls may withdraw from rough house play of boys

Dresses up like the same gender parent

Counts to two

Counts using several number words, but not necessarily in order

Instantly recognizes amounts of 2 or 3 without counting (two shoes)

Examines a small group of objects and knows which has more if there is a big discrepancy in amount

Orders several objects on the basis of one characteristic through trial and error (e.g., stacking rings ordered by size)

Explores measuring tools for emptying and filling

Amount: Knows more; believes that a cracker broken in several pieces is more

Notices attributes and calls them a “pattern” even if not a pattern

Demonstrates knowledge of basic-level categories (plants, animals, people)

Compares and matches form, size, color

Knows big and little hands on the clock and the position of the hands on the clock for specific activities (or digital numbers)

Matches forms with the same size and orientation

Places circle, square, triangle in puzzle

Puts together a jigsaw puzzle of 2-3 pieces, demonstrating understanding of combining segments to make a picture

Stacks 6 small blocks (interested in stacking many so they won’t fall)

Imitates drawing horizontal, vertical lines, and circular shapes in sand, etc.

Demonstrates knowledge of basic-level categories (plants, animals, people)

Points to and names many body parts on self and animals

 North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, 2015

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