Infant/Toddler

Domain: Language and Communication

Sub-Domain: Attending and Understanding

Goal IT-LC 1. Child attends to, understands, and responds to communication and language from others.

Developmental Progression   Indicators
Birth to 9 Months 8 to 18 Months 16 to 36 Months   By 36 Months
Attends to verbal and non-verbal communication by turning toward or looking at a person. Participates in reciprocal interactions by exchanging facial expressions and language sounds with familiar adults. Shows understanding of the meaning of familiar caregivers' verbal and non-verbal communication and responds with facial expressions, gestures, words, or actions, such as looking at people or objects being referred to. Shows recognition of words, phrases, and simple sentences. Participates in conversations in ways that show understanding by following comments or suggestions with actions or behavior.  
  • Shows understanding of some words and phrases used in conversation, such as by responding to simple questions.
  • Shows comprehension of simple sentences, such as by listening to and following one- or two-step directions.

Goal IT-LC 2. Child learns from communication and language experiences with others.

Developmental Progression   Indicators
Birth to 9 Months 8 to 18 Months 16 to 36 Months   By 36 Months
Pays attention when familiar adults talk or sign about objects, people, or events during face-to-face interactions by changing focus, making eye contact, or looking at people or objects. Participates in joint attention with an adult by looking back and forth between the adult and object. Points or gestures when an adult is pointing, naming, or signing about a familiar or new object and learns names and uses of objects. Participates in increasingly complex and lengthy periods of joint attention with adults. Shows interest, understanding, or enjoyment when participating in language activities, such as demonstrating understanding of objects' functions and uses, or when joining in games, songs, rhymes, or stories.  
  • Acts on descriptions provided by others about people, objects, or events.
  • Demonstrates interest and understanding when participating in language activities or games.
A teacher and a toddler boy play together on the ground with a bright toyCultural expectations can influence adult-child interactions in many ways. For example, in some cultures, children are taught to show respect to adults by making direct eye contact when spoken to. In other cultures, children are taught that respect is demonstrated by avoiding direct eye contact.

Sub-Domain: Communicating and Speaking

Goal IT-LC 3. Child communicates needs and wants non-verbally and by using language.

Developmental Progression   Indicators
Birth to 9 Months 8 to 18 Months 16 to 36 Months   By 36 Months
Learns how to use different means of communication to signal distress or discomfort, solicit help, and to communicate interests and needs to others. Uses a variety of ways to communicate interests, needs and wants, such as saying or making a sign for "More" when eating. Combines words or signs from one or more languages into phrases and sentences to communicate needs, wants, or ideas, such as "More milk," "I want juice," "Mas leche," or "Quiero juice."

Children who are dual language learners may combine their two languages or switch between them.
 
  • Uses combinations of words and simple sentences or signs in a variety of situations.
  • Uses simple sentences, such as three- and four-word sentences, to communicate needs and wants.

Goal IT-LC 4. Child uses non-verbal communication and language to engage others in interaction.

Developmental Progression   Indicators
Birth to 9 Months 8 to 18 Months 16 to 36 Months   By 36 Months
Uses facial expressions, including smiling, or uses gestures or sounds, such as cooing or babbling, to engage familiar adults in social interaction. Repeats actions or single words to initiate or maintain social interactions with other children or adults, such as clapping hands or calling a name to get someone's attention. Uses words, signs, phrases, or simple sentences to initiate, continue, or extend conversations with others about feelings, experiences, or thoughts.  
  • Initiates and responds in conversations with others.
  • Participates in simple conversations with others that are maintained by back-and-forth exchanges of ideas or information.
  • Engages in simple conversations by expressing own feelings, thoughts, and ideas to others.

Goal IT-LC 5. Child uses increasingly complex language in conversation with others.

Developmental Progression   Indicators
Birth to 9 Months 8 to 18 Months 16 to 36 Months   By 36 Months
Explores sounds common in many languages, such as "ma-ma" or "ba-ba." Initiates and participates in conversations by babbling and using gestures, such as showing or giving, or by using words or signs. Communicates mainly about objects, actions, and events happening in the here and now. Participates in conversations with others using spoken or sign language that includes simple sentences, questions, and responses. Sometimes describes experiences that have happened in the past or are about to happen.

Children who are DLLs develop the ability to participate in conversations with increasing complexity in each of their languages.
 
  • Uses sentences of three or more words in conversation with others.
  • Asks and answers simple questions in conversations with others.
  • Refers to past or future events in conversation with others.

Goal IT-LC 6. Child initiates non-verbal communication and language to learn and gain information.

Developmental Progression   Indicators
Birth to 9 Months 8 to 18 Months 16 to 36 Months   By 36 Months
Takes turns in non-verbal conversations by using facial expressions, sounds, gestures, or signs to initiate or respond to communication. Asks simple questions using gestures, such as pointing, signs or words, with variations in pitch and intonation. Seeks information and meaning of words by asking questions in words or signs, such as "What's that?" or "Who's that?" or "Why?"  
  • Asks questions in a variety of ways.
  • Repeats or re-phrases questions until a response is received.
an adult gestures with her hands to a toddler boySome children may communicate primarily or only by using sign language rather than speaking. Sign language is not likely to be used as a reliable means of communication from 0–9 months in a hearing impaired child.

Sub-Domain: Vocabulary

Goal IT-LC 7. Child understands an increasing number of words used in communication with others.

Developmental Progression   Indicators
Birth to 9 Months 8 to 18 Months 16 to 36 Months   By 36 Months
Looks at familiar people, animals, or objects when they are named such as mama, puppy, or ball. Looks or points at a person or object that has been named, follows simple directions, and responds appropriately to the meaning of words or signs. Comprehends an increasing number of words or signs used in simple sentences during conversation and interaction with familiar adults and children.  
  • Shows understanding of the meaning of common words used in daily activities.
  • Attends to new words used in conversation with others.
  • Understands most positional words, such as on, under, up, or down.

Goal IT-LC 8. Child uses an increasing number of words in communication and conversation with others.

Developmental Progression   Indicators
Birth to 9 Months 8 to 18 Months 16 to 36 Months   By 36 Months
May use signs or verbalizations for familiar people or objects. Imitates new words or signs and uses some words or signs for naming or making simple one-word requests, such as saying or signing "milk" when asking for a drink. Uses an increasing number of words in communication and conversation with others and adds new vocabulary words regularly.

Children who are DLLs may have a combined vocabulary in both languages that is similar in number to other children's vocabulary in one language.
 
  • Shows rapid growth in number of words or signs used in conversation with others.
  • Demonstrates a vocabulary of at least 300 words in home language.
  • Asks questions about the meaning of new words.

Sub-Domain: Emergent Literacy

Goal IT-LC 9. Child attends to, repeats, and uses some rhymes, phrases, or refrains from stories or songs.

Developmental Progression   Indicators
Birth to 9 Months 8 to 18 Months 16 to 36 Months   By 36 Months
Listens and attends to culturally and linguistically familiar words or signs in rhymes or songs. Says a few words of culturally and linguistically familiar rhymes and repetitive refrains in stories or songs. Says or repeats culturally and linguistically familiar rhymes, phrases, or refrains from songs or stories.  
  • Repeats simple familiar rhymes or sings favorite songs.
  • Retells familiar stories using props.

Goal IT-LC 10. Child handles books and relates them to their stories or information.

Developmental Progression   Indicators
Birth to 9 Months 8 to 18 Months 16 to 36 Months   By 36 Months
Explores a book by touching it, patting it, or putting it in mouth. Holds books, turns pages, looks at the pictures, and uses sounds, signs, or words to identify actions or objects in a book. Pretends to read books by turning pages and talking about or using signs to describe what is happening in the book.  
  • Asks to have several favorite books read over and over.
  • Holds book, turns pages, and pretends to read.

Goal IT-LC 11. Child recognizes pictures and some symbols, signs, or words.

Developmental Progression   Indicators
Birth to 9 Months 8 to 18 Months 16 to 36 Months   By 36 Months
Looks at pictures of familiar people, animals, or objects while an adult points at and/ or names the person, animal, or object. Points at, signs, or says name of, or talks about animals, people, or objects in photos, pictures, or drawings. Recognizes and uses some letters or numbers, such as letters in one's name, and shows increasing interest in written forms of language, such as print in books or signs on buildings.

Children who are DLLs recognize and use written forms of each of their languages.
 
  • Points to and names some letters or characters in their names.
  • Recognizes familiar signs on a building or street.
  • Attributes meaning to some symbols, such as a familiar logo or design.

Goal IT-LC 12. Child comprehends meaning from pictures and stories.

Developmental Progression   Indicators
Birth to 9 Months 8 to 18 Months 16 to 36 Months   By 36 Months
Looks at picture books and listens to an adult talk about pictures in a book. Points at pictures in a book, making sounds or saying words and interacting with an adult reading a book. Talks about books, acts out events from stories, and uses some vocabulary encountered during book reading.  
  • Uses pictures as a guide to talk about a story that has been read.
  • Asks or answers questions about what is happening in a book or story.
  • Identifies the feelings of characters in a book or story.

Goal IT-LC 13. Child makes marks and uses them to represent objects or actions.

Developmental Progression   Indicators
Birth to 9 Months 8 to 18 Months 16 to 36 Months   By 36 Months
Emerging Makes marks on a paper with a large crayon or marker to explore writing materials. Makes scribbles on paper to represent an object or action even though an adult might not recognize what it is.  
  • Draws pictures using scribbles and talks with others about what they have made.
  • Draws straight lines or curved lines.
  • Makes letter-like marks or scribbles on paper.
a young girl holds a colorful handmade drawingToddlers make marks on paper to represent an object or action. They often talk with others about what they have drawn. The development of children's fine motor skills will impact their emerging capacity to draw and eventually write. Some children with motor delays may need accommodations.

Last Reviewed: August 2015

Last Updated: August 11, 2015