North Carolina Early Learning and Development Progressions: Birth to Five

Domain: NC Foundations for Early Learning: Language Development and Communication (LDC)

Subdomain: Learning to Communicate

Goal: Children participate in conversations with peers and adults in one-on-one, small, and larger group interactions.

Skill Progression: Participate in conversations with peers and adults

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List of Skills by Age

1-2 Months

Makes eye contact with parent and smiles

Smiles at familiar face

2-4 Months

Vocalizes to initiate socializing

Smiles and starts vocal turn taking when adult imitates the infant’s sounds

4-6 Months

Responds differently to familiar and unfamiliar people

Uses voice to express pleasure and displeasure

Responds to sounds by making sounds

6-8 Months

Shows desire to be included in social interactions with others

Enjoys playing games such as peek-a-boo and pat-a-cake

Reacts to emotions of others

8-10 Months

Follows point or visual gaze of another person

Points to direct attention of adult

Initiates interactions by reaching for the adult’s mouth, nose, etc.

10-12 Months

Moves body to engage in social interaction with others

“Talks” with others in back and forth vocalizations

12-15 Months

Imitates actions of others

Makes verbal protests

Points to request information or an action

15-18 Months

Uses gestures and/or words for social interaction or to tell others what to do (e.g., blows kisses, fingers to lips for “shhh”, shrugs shoulders) approximately two times per minute

Produces jargon

Repeats words heard in conversations

18-21 Months

Attempts to converse with jargon and real words

Responds to “what” questions

Directs conversation primarily to self and adults

21-24 Months

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

24-27 Months

Takes 2-3 turns in conversations by adding new information

Initiates a topic and responds with new information

Dependent on the adult to scaffold the conversation

Begins to cooperate in games, songs, and finger plays

27-30 Months

Communicates about previous experiences when adult talks about them and asks questions

Conversations begin to be directed to other children, as well as self and adults

30-33 Months

Participates in storytelling and book reading with adult

33-36 Months

Listens for up to 20 minutes in one-on-one situations with preferred books

Follows a narrative and talks about it

Talks to self but begins talking to peers rather than adults

36-42 Months

Follows meaning in conversation among numerous people

Interrupts and talks over others to give own ideas in a group

Understands meaning, even if indirectly stated (e.g., “I need my shoe” implies “Give me my shoe”)

Still seeks out adults for conversations, but prefers peers

42-48 Months

Takes 4 turns in a true conversation on a topic

Participates in a narrative describing an event

May interrupt in conversations, but is beginning to understand taking a turns in a group

Seeks out peers for conversations, rather than adults

48-54 Months

Raises hand to offer comment in a group

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

54-60 Months

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

 North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, 2015

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