North Carolina Early Learning and Development Progressions: Birth to Five

Skills for ages 54-60 Months

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Health and Physical Development

Supine/Prone established

Skips with coordination (alternate step-hop pattern)

Jumps forward 36 inches

Catches small ball by adjusting body position in line with the ball and elbows at sides

Imitates a variety of actions in a game or song

Walks on a curb or balance board without falling

Jumps over something 10” off the ground

Jumps up and turns around 180°

May try jumping rope

Throws and releases a ball smoothly with accurate directionality

Steps forward with same leg as throwing arm

Skates or rides a scooter

May ride a two-wheel bike

Skills combined into Reach/Grasp/Release

Grasp: Draws with dexterity, using a dynamic tripod grasp, with the little and ring finger tucked into the palm, the thumb and index finger grasping the pencil, and the middle finger supporting underneath the pencil (movement comes from fingers rather than arm and hands)

Completes 10+ interlocking piece puzzles

Draws stick figures with head, body, arms, and legs

Uses scissors to cut out shapes

Draws what is known, rather than what is actually seen (four legs on dog)

Draws more important things larger (e.g., person larger than the house)

Drawings are colorful, rhythmic, balanced, and expressive of feelings; may represent people, objects, actions, or events and begin to tell a story

Uses a knife to spread food items

Puts shoes on the correct feet

Showers independently, but may need help with washing hair

Completely cares for self at toilet

Threads belt through loops

Fastens and zips front fastening zippers

Chooses weather appropriate clothing

Sitting established

Standing established

Language Development and Communication

Understands terms related to a broad range of topics, including environmental features, math and science topics, community components, cultural differences, current events, etc.

Understands “what happens if…?”

Communicates in group activities by taking turns most of the time

Begins to understand humor; tries to tell jokes or make others laugh with stories

Talks about another person’s likes, dislikes, and point of view

Understands “What happens if...” questions

Asks about another person’s perspective (e.g., “What do you think about…?”)

100% intelligible, though errors on /s, sh, r, l, z, zh, ch, j, th/ may persist

85% of children correctly produce the following: Initial sound: /ch, j, l, s, sh, y, bl/ Medial sound: /ch, j, l, s, sh, z/ Final sound: /l, ng ch, j, s, sh, r, v, z/

Demonstrates few omissions or substitutions

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

75% of children: No longer substitute alveolar (made with tongue near upper teeth ridge) for non-alveolar (e.g., tu/shoe)

75% of children: No longer substitute voiceless final consonant for a voiced consonant (e.g., bak/bag)

75% of children: No longer omit /s/ in an initial position of a cluster (e.g., tep/step)

Produces 4-8 word (or longer) sentences

Creates elaborate stories with peers for dramatic play

Performs plays for adults

Dictates stories in appropriate narrative sequence, with characters, unorganized plot, and dialogue

Produces indefinite negatives, including nothing, nobody, and no one

Produces all types of simple and complex sentences

Uses comparative terms: Compares weight (e.g., lighter, heavier); names a broad range of colors and shades (e.g., lighter/darker); compares amount (e.g., uses equal, less, fewer, more than)

Uses complex directional and time relational words (e.g., then, first, next, forward, backward)

Names the category when examples are given (e.g., apple, pear, grape)

Uses expanded number words and concepts: Knows counting words up to 100 and names coins

Approximately 70% of vocabulary is concrete

Asks adult to buy or check out specific topics, books, or authors

Demonstrates preferences in types of books to read (e.g., story, humorous, nonfiction, science, poetry, etc.)

Tells a suitable ending to a simple story

Differentiates, identifies, and reproduces letters in the alphabet (at least in approximations)

Attempts to incorporate print conventions such as spacing, alignment, and punctuation (though inaccurately)

Understands that letters function to represent the sounds in spoken words

Identifies what letter is needed in a word by listening to the word being said, especially if there is a letter name match (e.g, OK.)

Selects an appropriate letter to represent a sound that an adult isolates

Recognizes a few sight words (e.g., words in familiar books, stores, etc.)

Imitates drawing a triangle

Replaces scribbles with letter approximations and actual letters in a message or story

Writing formats differ for different purposes (e.g., list, card, story)

May reverse letters when writing

Replaces scribbles with letter approximations and actual letters

Writes a few words correctly from memory (e.g., a few names and common words, such as No, Yes, Love, Mom, Dad, and Dear)

Writes at least the most commonly first-learned letters: B, D, S, T, O, A, H, K, M, and C

Writes simple consonant-vowel-consonant words

Writes some upper and lower case letters, but may mix them together

Writes left to right and top to bottom of page

Puts spaces between some writing to represent words, but may run other words together

Replaces scribbles with letter approximations and actual letters

Asks how to write specific words

Produces full range of sentence types

Cognitive Development

Understands orientation of objects, letters and pictures as an important characteristic

Gives detailed descriptions of past events, stories, movies, etc.

Remembers sequences of words and numbers

Describes her plan, and what she is going to do in a logical sequence

Compares and negotiates his ideas with others in play

Establishes rules for play

Capable of learning some basic musical concepts such as pitch (high/low), duration (long/short), tempo (fast/slow), and loudness (soft/loud)

Sense of pitch, rhythm, and melody emerging

Examines art and sees similarities and differences across artists

Dance movements are precise and coordinated

Includes music and dance in dramatic play or performance

Uses a variety of tools, scissors, markers, fasteners to create scenes, props, etc.

Artwork shows novel ideas or methods of expression

Draws whole scene

Discusses and negotiates roles, actions, and dialogue with other players in dramatizations

Attempts to please peers, make friends

Participates well in groups; raises hand to talk, takes turns, listens to others

Names special friends in the classroom

Converses with people outside of the family and asks them questions

Demonstrates a good understanding of how to behave in different environments

Group rough and tumble play; more prevalent for boys

Begin to understand that race is more than a difference in color; becomes aware of different cultures and begins to ask questions about them; establishing an ethnic identity

Counts accurately to 10

Recognizes errors in counting

Counts backward from 10

“Counts on” from a given number without starting at 1

Knows the number before and the number after a number but has to count from 1 to figure it out

Counts to 100 by ones (with emphasis on the pattern)

Uses counting to compare amounts in sets even if items are different sizes

Visually structures and verbally labels two visual amounts and identifies the total amount (up to 10)

Keeps track of number counted even when not in a structured arrangement

Writes and draws to represent 1 to 10 and 20 and 30

Breaks up a total number of objects in many different combinations to make the whole set (up to 10)

Adds up the total of two same or different sets of objects up to as high as the child can count

Compares sets of objects to find the difference in amount

Solves take-away problems by separating a set of concrete objects from the total amount and counting the remainder

Finds how many objects need to be added to a set to get a specific total

Meaningfully uses words equal, more, less, and fewer

Knows to count and compare regardless of the attributes in the set

Identifies and uses ordinal numbers from 1st to 10th

Puts items in serial order of size from one to six units

Length: Compares lengths using another object

Length: Compares the length of two objects using an object with standard units

Size: Orders six objects from smallest to largest

Time: Knows day before yesterday, day after tomorrow; learns days of the week and seasons

Extends a simple pattern by adding a new pattern set

Recognizes that adding “1” is a pattern and adding “2” is a another pattern, whether with objects or numbers

Identifies the class, when items are named (apple, banana, grape)

Knows penny, nickel, dime (but not their worth)

Classifies toys, tools, number, letters, people, objects by function

Recreates a picture or pattern using shapes

Recognizes a wide range of rectangular shapes, with varying sizes and orientations

Counts sides of a shape to identify the geometric configuration

Recognizes and counts angles to the geometric configuration

Recognizes basic shapes and typical hexagon, rhombus, and trapezoid

: Identifies and describes a variety of 2-dimensional shapes with mathematical names (ball/sphere, can/ cylinder) regardless of orientation and size

Completes a shape or figure puzzle requiring combining pieces to make a shape or figure (8-10 pieces)

Recreates a picture composed of shapes or tangrams

Decomposes or takes apart shapes to make smaller shapes

Creates a map using toy objects to recreate a space such as the classroom

Describes characteristics of living things

Talks about the similarities and differences among different animals, insects, and plants

Differentiates between manmade and natural materials

Notes the physical properties of different aspects of the environment

Dramatizes roles of community helpers

 North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, 2015

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