North Carolina Early Learning and Development Progressions: Birth to Five

Skills for ages 48-54 Months

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Language Development and Communication

Understands vocabulary related to own experiences and culture

Understands time concepts related to days, months, holidays, etc.

Understands basic number concepts

Raises hand to offer comment in a group

Directs conversation primarily to peers and responds to peers’ conversation directed toward him

Answers open ended questions, such as “What can you tell me about….?”

Asks questions about how another person feels

Asks what words mean

90% intelligible

Emerging production of /r, l, s, ch, sh, z, j, v/

75% of children: No longer substitute non-palatal sounds for palatal (tongue on palate) sound at the end of a word (e.g., dit/dish)

Describes how to do something in detail

Retells stories and events in sequence

Creates songs and rhymes

Creates stories with drawings, constructions of sand, clay, blocks, etc.

Negotiates roles in dramatic play and may switch roles to play different parts

Spontaneously builds on another’s dialogue and actions

Produces the following morphemes: Contractible auxiliary verbs (“they’re coming”)

Uses comparative terms (e.g., longer, shorter)

Uses terms related to time (e.g., day/night, before/after, early/late, summer/winter, etc.)

Uses word “money” and may know a few coins

Uses counting words to 20

Knows days of the week, some names of months, and some holidays (though may be inaccurate)

Produces metalinguistic language (Anna begins with “A”)

Infers meaning from context of sentence

Talks about favorite books with peers

Asks questions and comments on a book indicating understanding and interest in a topic or event

Responds to a variety of questions about a story that was previously read

Mixes print-like letters, real letters, and drawings in “writings”

Asks about print conventions like spelling, spacing, and where to write

Notices words that have letters like those in own name and asks what the word “says”

Identifies simple, high-frequency words

Counts syllables in names and simple words

Identifies initial letters and sounds of familiar names and some words

Identifies parts of words that rhyme

Segments words into syllables

Differentiates between letters and numbers

Copies a square

Draws a person with a head and at least 6 features

Draws simple pictures to tell a story

Attempts to write letter-like forms in a sequence to write a message

Writes letter-like forms along with scribbles to represent writing

Asks about spelling, spacing of words

Holds a crayon with an adult grasp

Writes large letters

Copies a square from a model

Tries to imitate the letters in own name and some family member’s names

Includes a combination of letters and letter-like symbols in writing

Writes in organized and segmented rows, though placement may not be in the correct order

Cognitive Development

Attends to more than one characteristic (shape and color, color and size, texture and color, etc.)

Determines what is missing from pictures, puzzles, and toys

Describes reasons for feelings and beliefs

Knows what to do to please others and takes steps to do so

Selects a variety of materials to create play scenarios

Begins to be aware of musical syntax (rules for how the various aspects of music come together) and to understand and use musical phrases (segments of music)

Attention span for listening to music increases in length and interests expand to various types of music

Examines different types of art and explains why she likes or dislikes it

Dances and sings for others

Combines movements to create a novel dance

Creates representations with paper, clay, sand, small boxes, etc.

Makes art projects with a variety of tactile materials and fasteners

Draws squares and rectangular shapes

Draws people

Acts out feelings of characters in dramatic play (fear, anger, sadness, etc.) with fantasy characters, super heroes, etc.

Monitors the emotional state of a group and children within the group

Maintains attention in group activities when interested

Responsible for chores within the home/school

Responds appropriately to instructions given in a small group

Knows the rules of the household and classroom

May participate in community structured group sports or activities

Tends to choose friends with like interests and personalities

Begins to notice more subtle developmental concerns, such as language delays, negative emotional behaviors, etc. in peers

Writes or draws to represent 1 through 10

Counts structured arrangement up to 9 and knows “how many”

Counts 1-30 with emphasis on the counting pattern (e.g., Twenty-one, with parallel to 1,2,3)

Understands “same number as”

Recognizes the written numbers 1-9

Counts all in two number sets by adding on from the first set

Talks about past, present, future

Matches unrelated items and determines if they are the same amount

Size: Compares size (area) by placing one on another

Weight: Compares weight (light, heavy)

Time: Knows morning, afternoon

Recognizes a simple pattern (three different attributes)

Duplicates simple patterns seen at a distance

Creates original patterns in art work

Extends a pattern (ABBAABBA)

Classifies by characteristics of people (hair color, eye, color, etc.); classifies objects or events by abstract characteristics (transportation, holidays, etc.)

Sorts a wide variety of shapes

May not differentiate sides and corners, for example in puzzles and shapes

Recognizes variations in triangles, but usually does not recognize diamonds

Constructs 2-D and 3-D constructions with symmetry

Builds, copies, and describes a shape

Breaks apart simple two-dimensional shapes that have obvious clues for breaking them apart

Finds shapes "hidden" in arrangements in which the shapes overlap each other, but are not embedded inside one another

Uses positional words (behind, in front of, beside) to describe the location of an object

Demonstrates an understanding of the differences between living and nonliving things

Understands the differences between habitats for people and animals

Recalls 3-4 elements of a story without prompts

 North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, 2015

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