Component 1: Receptive Language

Learning Goal 1.a: Young children attend to, understand, and respond to increasingly complex language.

By 9 months, most children:

  • Turn toward familiar voices or sounds
  • Recognize more than one tone of voice in adults and respond with body movement and sounds
  • Demonstrate a recognition of names of familiar people and favorite objects
  • Respond to voices and sounds in the environment
  • Can be quieted by a calm, familiar voice
  • Become excited upon hearing familiar words, such as “nursing” or “bottle”
  • Startle or cry when there is a loud sound

By 18 months, most children:

  • Look at what an adult is pointing to and share attention
  • Identify familiar people or objects when prompted
  • Understand more words than they can say
  • Respond appropriately to familiar words, signs, and songs
  • Follow simple, one-step directions, especially if accompanied by adult gestures (e.g., “stop” or “come here”)

By 24 months, most children:

  • Understand approximately 200 words (receptive language)
  • Follow one-step directions with few adult gestures (e.g., responding to an adult saying, “Please lift your arms.”)

By 36 months, most children:

  • Demonstrate an understanding of descriptive words
  • Respond appropriately to others’ comments, questions, or stories
  • Follow two-step directions that involve familiar experiences and objects (e.g., “Find your shoes and bring them to me.”)

By 48 months, most children:

  • Demonstrate an understanding of stories, songs, and poems by retelling or relating them to prior knowledge
  • Demonstrate an understanding of conversations by responding to questions and prompts
  • Demonstrate an understanding of several hundred words in their home language, including those relating to objects, actions, and attributes encountered in both real and symbolic contexts (conversations and texts)
  • Distinguish between real and made-up words
  • Understand increasingly longer and complex sentences, including sentences with two or more phrases or ideas
  • Follow directions that involve multiple steps (e.g., “Please, would you get the sponge, dampen it with water, and clean your table top?”)

By 60 months, most children:

  • Demonstrate an understanding of complex statements, questions, and stories containing multiple phrases and ideas
  • Respond appropriately to a specific and varied vocabulary
  • Follow detailed, multi-step directions (e.g., “Put away your toys, wash your hands, and come to the table.”)