Developmental Language and Literacy Milestones

Three and Four Year Olds

  • Knows that alphabet letters are individual graphics which can be named
  • Recognizes familiar environmental print
  • Knows that print has a message
  • Knows that there are different purposes for print
  • Notices separable and repeating sounds in language
  • Rapidly increasing vocabulary
  • Uses grammatical construction in own speech
  • Understands and follows oral directions
  • Begins to sequence events in stories
  • Is interested in books and reading
  • Is able to make connections between story and own life experiences
  • Questions and comments on story’s literal meaning
  • Attempts reading and writing
  • Can identify 10 alphabet letters, especially those from own name
  • “Writes” for purpose and meaning as part of playful activity
  • Begins to notice beginning or rhyming sounds in words

Kindergarten (Five and six year olds)

  • Knows the parts of a book and their functions
  • Begins to track print when listening to a familiar text or rereading own writing
  • “Reads” familiar text in own words
  • Recognizes and names all upper and lower case letters
  • Understands that the sequence of letters in a word represent the sequence of sounds
  • Learns most letter sounds
  • Recognizes some sight words
  • Uses new vocabulary and grammatical construction in own speech
  • Notices when simple sentences do not make sense
  • Makes connections between text and own life experiences
  • Retells, reenacts or dramatizes stories or parts of stories
  • Listens attentively to books
  • Can name some book titles and authors
  • Has familiarity with a number of types of genres
  • Correctly answers questions about stories read aloud
  • Makes predictions based on illustrations or portions of story
  • Identifies words that begin the same and those that are different
  • Identifies words that rhyme
  • Given a spoken word, can produce another word that rhymes with it
  • Independently writes many upper and lower case letters
  • Uses phonemic awareness and letter knowledge to spell independently (Invented or phonetic spelling)
  • Writes unconventionally to express own meaning
  • Builds a repertoire of some conventionally spelled words
  • Writes own name (first and last) and the first names of family and friends
  • Can write most letters and some words when they are dictated.

ZERO TO THREE: National Center for Infants, Toddlers, and Families, 1995. Caring for Infants and Toddlers in Groups: Developmentally Appropriate Practice. Washington, D.C.

Snow, Catherine E., M. Susan Burns, and Peg Griffin, Editors (1998) Preventing Readiang Difficulties in Young Children. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press.