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Growth & Development

Healthy Child Development

There are several stages of healthy literacy and numeracy development that are marked by key abilities.  

By 3 months

  • Shows interest in contrast between light and dark

  • Makes eye contact with pictures in book

  • Looks intensely at pictures for several minutes

By 6 months

  • Enjoys music, songs and rhymes

  • Reaches for and explores books with hands and mouth

  • Sits on lap and holds head up steadily

  • Shows preference for photographs of faces

  • Uses both hands to manipulate the book to make the pages open and close

By 12 months

  • Shows interest in looking at books

  • Holds book with help

  • Tries to turn several pages at a time

  • Looks at pictures, vocalizes and pats picture

  • Sits up without support

  • Plays social games with you (e.g., peek a boo)

By 18 months

  • Points at pictures with one finger

  • Enjoys tickle, bounce and nursery rhymes

  • Identifies pictures in a book (e.g., Show me the baby)

  • Able to carry book and turn pages well

  • Holds a crayon or pencil in fist and marks paper, scribbles

  • Labels a particular picture with a specific sound

  • Enjoys being read to and looking at books

  • Relates an object or an action in a book to the real world

By 2 years

  • Asks for favourite books to be read over and over again

  • Pretends to read

  • Names familiar pictures

  • Scribbles

  • Holds books the right way up and turns pages easily, one at a time

  • Relates events in books to his/her own past experiences

  • Notices print rather than just the pictures

  • Can join in and recite phrases

By 2 ½ months

  • Produces words with two or more syllables or beats: ba-na-na, com-pu-ter

  • Recognizes familiar logos and signs - (e.g., stop sign)

  • Remembers and understands familiar stories

By 3 years

  • Sings simple songs and familiar rhymes

  • Pretends to read familiar books aloud

  • Knows how to use a book (holds/turns pages one at a time, starts at beginning, points/talks about pictures)

  • Looks carefully and makes comments about books

  • Fills in missing words/phrases in familiar books that are read aloud

  • Holds a pencil/crayon with pincer grasp and uses it to draw/scribble

  • Imitates writing with linear scribbles

  • Copies a circle, vertical and horizontal lines when shown

  • Talks about past events

  • Tells simple stories

  • Engages in multi step pretend play – cooking a meal, repairing a car

  • Is aware of the functions of print – in menus, signs

  • Has a beginning interest in, and awareness of, rhyming

  • Requests adult to read or write

  • Understands that print carries a message

  • Shows ability to participate in routines

By 4 ½ years

  • Tells stories with clear beginning, middle and end

  • Matches some letters with their sounds (e.g., Letter “t” says tuh)

  • Recites nursery rhymes and sings familiar songs

  • Reads a book by memory or by making up the story to go along with the pictures

  • Can guess what will happen next in the story

  • Retells some details of stories read aloud but not necessarily in order

  • Traces circle, triangle, square using templates

  • Recognizes signs and symbols in daily environment (e.g., traffic signs, washroom signs)

  • Holds a pencil correctly

  • Identifies the names of 10 alphabet letters (likely from own name)

  • Understands the concept of rhyme; recognizes and generates rhyming words

  • Changes a sound in a word to make a new word in familiar games and songs

  • Enjoys being read to □ Is motivated to try to read

By 5 ½ years

  • Can match all letter symbols to letter sounds

  • Reads some familiar vocabulary by sight (high frequency words)

  • Can label pictures quickly □ Knows parts of a book

  • Understands the basic concepts of print (difference between letters, words, sentences, how the text runs from left to right, top to bottom, white space between words)

  • Knowledge of the basic concepts of print shows in child’s writing (letters instead of scribbles, letter groupings that look like words, invented spelling)

  • Points to and says the name of most letters of the alphabet when randomly presented (upper and lower case); recognizes how many words are in a sentence

  • Prints letters (by copying, or in her full name, or when attempting to spell words)

  • Makes predictions about stories; retells the beginning, middle and end of familiar stories

  • Can recall a brief story that has just been heard

  • When being read a story, connects information and events to real life experiences

  • Can identify the beginning and ending sounds in words e.g., “Pop” starts with the “puh” sound

  • Can shift attention from meanings of words to sounds of words

  • Draws diagonal lines and simple shapes

  • Able to sort objects by size, colour, use, etc.

  • Able to understand simple patterning

  • One to one correspondence for numbers from 1 through 10

... If a child is missing one or more of these expected age outcomes, consider this a red flag:

Literacy & Numeracy

Having more general concerns about a child's development?

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