Age Appropriate Skills and Behaviors Drafted July 2007



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Age Appropriate Skills and Behaviors

Drafted July 2007

One of the essential pieces of knowledge for completing the COSF is to understand age-appropriate skills and behaviors. A variety of resources are available to providers/teachers including norm-referenced and curriculum-based assessment tools, Early Learning Guidelines and Standards, child development textbooks and courses, and online resources such as the American Academy of Pediatrics. The following resource is intended to support providers/teachers in understanding skills and behaviors expected at certain ages. It is not intended to be an exhaustive list of age-appropriate skills and behaviors for the given ages, nor is it intended to be used as a checklist.


The following resources were used to develop this document:
CDC website www.cdc.gov/actearly July 20, 2007, from CARING FOR YOUR BABY AND YOUNG CHILD: BIRTH THROUGH AGE 5 by Steven Shelov, Robert E. Hannermann, © 1991, 1993, 1998, 2004 by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Used by permission of Bantam Books, a division of Random House, Inc.
The Creative Curriculum Developmental Continuum for Ages 3-5
HELP Strands Curriculum-Based Developmental Assessment Birth to Three Years, Adapted from the Hawaii Early Learning Profile by: Stephanie Parks
University of Maryland web page http://www.umm.edu/ency/article/002348.htm
University of Michigan Health System; American Academy of Pediatrics and Zero to Three

Web site: http://www.med.umich.edu/1libr/yourchild/devmile.htm#mile

PBS web site: http://www.pbs.org/parents/childdevelopment/socialemotional-4to5.html


Outcome 1: Social-Emotional Skills and Behaviors
One-year-olds are just learning to recognize and manage their feelings. They experience a wide range of emotions and have tantrums when they are tired or frustrated. They may also respond to conflict by hitting, biting, screaming, or crying. One-year-olds seek autonomy and may say, "No!" to adult suggestions or insist that they, "Do it byself!" Then, moments later, they might cling to an adult's leg or ask for help.6


  • Shows pleasure when familiar adults are nearby. Has developed close attachments with parents and other frequent caregivers; uses these relationships as a secure base to explore (e.g., digs in the sandbox but runs back to dad for a cuddle from time to time).6

  • Is keenly observant of others' emotional reactions. Checks parent's facial expressions (e.g., considers climbing up a ladder at the playground, but first looks back at mother's face for encouragement or warning)6

  • Experiences a wide range of emotions (e.g., affection, frustration, fear, anger, sadness). Tends to express and act on impulses; has tantrums when tired or frustrated. With adult help, begins to use strategies to control emotional expression (e.g., goes to get teddy bear or another comfort object when upset so he or she can calm down).6

  • Is aware of others. Enjoys exploring objects with adults as a basis for establishing relationships (e.g., plays "peek-a-boo" over and over again with grandfather).6

  • May make simple overtures to familiar children (e.g., looks for and smiles at children at the store, offers a toy or hug to another child whether or not the gesture is welcome).6

  • Shows "contagious distress" when others are unhappy (e.g., at child care, starts to cry when he or she sees another child crying).6


  • When a conflict occurs with another child or adult, he or she often acts out physically or emotionally (e.g., another child grabs Sara's shovel, so she pushes the child and screams). Calms down when an adult helps resolve the conflict.6

American Academy of Pediatrics:




  • Shy or anxious with strangers1

  • Cries when mother or father leaves1

  • Enjoys imitating people in his play1

  • Shows specific preferences for certain people and toys1

  • Tests parental responses to his actions during feedings1

  • Tests parental responses to his behavior1

  • May be fearful in some situations1

  • Prefers mother and/or regular caregiver over all others1

  • Repeats sounds or gestures for attention1

HELP items around 12 months




  • May show fear and insecurity with previously accepted situations—common fears include animals, bath tub, vacuum, dark places (6-18 mo)3

  • Lets only parent meet his needs—to feed, dress, comfort him (8-12 mo)3

  • Explores environment enthusiastically, safety precautions – is comfortable moving away from parent to explore, but also periodically looks back to make sure parent is still there (9-12 mo)3
  • Extends toy to show others, not for release – as a gesture to initiate a social interaction (9-12 mo)3


  • Repeats sounds or gestures if laughed at—e.g. repeats making a silly face (11-12.5 mo)3

  • Babbles in response to human voice—takes at least three ‘turns’ (11-15 mo)3

  • Likes to be in constant sight and hearing of adult (12-13 mo)3

University of Maryland




  • Waves bye4

  • May make brief exploratory journeys away from parents in familiar settings4

  • Experiences separation anxiety and may cling to parents4

  • May develop attachment to a toy or object4

University of Michigan, Developmental Milestones by the End of 12 Months:




  • Shy or anxious with strangers5

  • Cries when mother or father leaves5

  • Enjoys imitating people in his play5

  • Shows specific preferences for certain people and toys5

  • Tests parental responses to his actions during feedings5

  • Tests parental responses to his behavior5

  • May be fearful in some situations5

  • Prefers mother and/or regular caregiver over all others5

  • Repeats sounds or gestures for attention5

  • Babbles with inflection5

  • Says "dada" and "mama"5



Outcome 2: Thinking, Reasoning, Problem-Solving Skills and Behaviors

One-year-olds are in the act of discovering the world. They enthusiastically use their senses to purposefully explore everything they can. They find pleasure in causing things to happen and in completing basic tasks. They also enjoy sharing interesting learning experiences with adults, and may use gestures and simple sounds or speech to ask adults questions. Since language skills are still developing, one-year-olds rely more heavily on nonverbal, physical strategies to reach simple goals.6



  • Focuses attention on interesting sights or sounds, often in shared experiences with adults (e.g., sits on father's lap looking at a picture book).6

  • Shows pleasure in completing simple tasks (e.g., drops clothespins into a bucket and smiles and claps when all are inside).6

  • When reading with adults, may want to hold the book or try to turn the pages. Collects information about the world using the senses.6

  • Actively participates in a variety of sensory experiences (e.g., tastes, touches, pats, shakes).6

  • May seek information from adults by pointing to an interesting object, and then giving a questioning look, making a vocal sound, and/or saying a single word. In the second half of the year, children will be able to combine words to ask simple questions (e.g., says, "What that?" or "Who coming?").6

  • Shows physical and vocal pleasure when exploring objects and other things. Finds pleasure in causing things to happen (e.g., picks up bells and rings them, then smiles broadly when each one sounds different).6

  • Tries a variety of physical strategies to reach simple goals (e.g., when a cart gets stuck while being pushed through a door, he or she turns the cart a different way and tries again).6

  • Discovers aspects of the physical world using early language skills and purposeful exploration with the senses (e.g., turns a plastic bucket over and over, raising and lowering the handle thoughtfully).6

  • Pretends one object is really another with simple physical substitutions (e.g., picks up a wooden block and holds it to his or her ear like a phone).6

  • Uses objects in new and unexpected ways (e.g., puts saucepan on head, laughs uproariously).6

One-year-olds are building a foundation for language. They absorb the language around them and are steadily building their vocabularies. They understand common phrases and simple directions used in routine situations. They have great difficulty with pronunciation, and familiar adults almost always need to "translate" for others. During this year, communication skills typically progress from grunting and pointing to speaking single words and experimenting with simple word combinations.

Receptive Vocabulary (words recognized when heard or seen).6



  • At 12 months, understands 50 words; at 15 months, 120 words; at 16 months, 170 words; at 18 months, 200 or more words.6

  • Between 12 and 15 months, acquires about one word every other day. During a "spurt" between 16 and 23 months, children typically acquire one or two words per day.6

  • At 12-14 months, learns words when adults name objects that are nearby or in hand. By 14 or 15 months, points to objects further away for adults to name.6

  • Vocabulary words include many nouns (names of things), some verbs (e.g., kiss, kick, open, sleep), some descriptive words (e.g., cold, full, all gone, broken), some pronouns (e.g., he, me, mine) and some location words (e.g., down, in).6

  • Understands a few common phrases used in routine situations (e.g., "Do you want more?", "Give me a kiss.", "Let's go bye-bye.").6

  • Understands simple directions used in routine situations (e.g., "Stop that.", "Spit it out.", "Please hold still.", "Sit down.", "Stand up.")6

  • Understands only the simplest explanations in routine contexts.6

  • At 12 months, the average child says up to three words and may also communicate by grunting, nodding, pointing, etc. At 15 months, the average child says 14 words. At 16 months, the average child says 40 words. At 18 months, the average child says 68 words. At 23 months, the average child says about 200 words.6
  • Over- and under- extends meanings. For example, a child calls a cow "horsie" or does not use "shoe" to label footwear that is not a common shoe (i.e., boot or sandal).6


  • From 12 months to 24 months, words are rarely spoken correctly in the adult manner. Has great difficulty with pronunciation. Parents and caregivers almost always need to "translate" for others.6

American Academy of Pediatrics




  • Explores objects in many different ways (shaking, banging, throwing, dropping) 1

  • Finds hidden objects easily1

  • Looks at correct picture when the image is named1

  • Imitates gestures1

  • Begins to use objects correctly (drinking from cup, brushing hair, dialing phone, listening to receiver) 1

  • Pays increasing attention to speech1

  • Responds to simple verbal requests1

  • Responds to “no” 1

  • Uses simple gestures, such as shaking head for “no” 1

  • Babbles with inflection (changes in tone) 1

  • Says “dada” and “mama” 1

  • Uses exclamations, such as “Oh-oh!” 1

  • Tries to imitate words1

  • Bangs two objects together1

  • Puts objects into container1

  • Takes objects out of container1

  • Lets objects go voluntarily1

  • Pokes with index finger1

  • Tries to imitate scribbling1

HELP items around 12 months



  • Responds to simple requests with gestures—e.g. “Come here” while holding out arms; “Give me kiss” while leaning cheek near child (7-12 mo)3


  • Shows like/dislike for certain people, objects, places (7-12 mo)3

  • Looks at named pictures one minute when named—looks intently at one or two photos; not necessarily a full minute (8-9 mo)3

  • Finds hidden object using two screens—when watching object covered up entirely, removes the correct cover on first try to find it (8-10 mo)3

  • Listens selectively to familiar words—e.g. looks at bottle in response to ‘where’s your bottle?’; at least 3-5 words; no gesture cues (8-12 mo)3

  • Finds hidden object using three screens—when watching object covered up entirely, removes the correct cover on first try to find it (9-10 mo)3

  • Imitates new gesture---not part of his repertoire-reproductions frequently not accurate (9-11 mo)3

  • Takes objects out of container—by dumping or taking out one by one (9-11 mo)3

  • Finds hidden object under three superimposed screens (9-12 mo)3

  • Engages in simple relational play—combines 2 different but related objects e.g. puts a brush to a doll’s head, spoon in cup (9-12 mo)3

  • Explores environment enthusiastically, safety precautions – is comfortable moving away from parent to explore, but also periodically looks back to make sure parent is still there (9-12 mo)3

  • Guides action on toy manually—rather than using attached switch, key, button (9-12 mo)3
  • Rotates object to find functional side—e.g. bottle, mirror (9-12 mo)3


  • Throws objects—to watch the effects when they land (9-12 mo)3

  • Knows what ‘no no’ means and reacts—e.g. inhibits, cries (9-12 mo)3

  • Extends toy to show others, not for release (9-12 mo)3

University of Maryland




  • Turn through pages of a book by flipping many at a time4

  • Have a precise pincer grasp4

  • Comprehends several words4

  • Can say mamma, papa, and at least 1-2 other words4

  • Comprehends simple commands4

  • Tries to imitate animal sounds4

  • Associates names with objects4

  • Searches for objects that are hidden, but unable to consider alternative locations4

  • Points to objects with index finger (to show understanding of word associated with object)4

University of Michigan, Developmental Milestones by the End of 12 Months:




  • Pays increasing attention to speech5

  • Responds to simple verbal requests5

  • Responds to "no"5

  • Uses simple gestures, such as shaking head for "no"5

  • Babbles with inflection5

  • Says "dada" and "mama"5

  • Uses exclamations, such as "Oh-oh!" 5

  • Tries to imitate words5

  • Explores objects in many different ways (shaking, banging, throwing, dropping)5

  • Finds hidden objects easily5
  • Looks at correct picture when the image is named5


  • Imitates gestures5

  • Begins to use objects correctly (drinking from cup, brushing hair, dialing phone, listening to receiver) 5



Outcome 3: Taking Appropriate Action to Meet Needs (Feeding, Toileting, Signaling/Asking for Assistance)
One-year-olds are building a foundation for language. They absorb the language around them and are steadily building their vocabularies. They understand common phrases and simple directions used in routine situations. They have great difficulty with pronunciation, and familiar adults almost always need to "translate" for others. During this year, communication skills typically progress from grunting and pointing to speaking single words and experimenting with simple word combinations.

Receptive Vocabulary (words recognized when heard or seen)6




  • At 12 months, the average child says up to three words and may also communicate by grunting, nodding, pointing, etc. At 15 months, the average child says 14 words. At 16 months, the average child says 40 words. At 18 months, the average child says 68 words. At 23 months, the average child says about 200 words.6

  • From 12 months to 24 months, words are rarely spoken correctly in the adult manner. Has great difficulty with pronunciation. Parents and caregivers almost always need to "translate" for others.6

  • Indicates preferences non-verbally or with simple language (e.g., points to an apple and pushes banana away).6

  • Increasingly tries to help with self-care activities (e.g., feeding, undressing, grooming).6
  • Uses gestures and (toward the end of the year) simple language to get help when "stuck" (e.g., extends arms toward grandfather and says, "Up Up!" when trying to get into large chair).6

American Academy of Pediatrics




  • Finger-feeds himself1

  • Extends arm or leg to help when being dressed1

HELP items around 12 months




  • Creeps on hands and knees (9-11 mo) 3

  • Explores environment enthusiastically, safety precautions – is comfortable moving away from parent to explore, but also periodically looks back to make sure parent is still there (9-12 mo) 3

  • Uses locomotion to regain object; resumes play—e.g. if playing with a hammer toy and hammer is out of reach, crawls to get the hammer and brings it back to play (9-12 mo) 3

  • Pulls string horizontally to obtain toy; not just to play with string (9-12 mo) 3

  • Finger feeds self—without help at least half of each meal (9-12 mo) 3

  • Holds spoon—may treat it as a toy, hold, bang and mouth it (9-12 mo) 3

  • Walks holding onto furniture (9.5-13 mo) 3

  • Pivots in sitting –twists to pick up objects (10-11 mo) 3

  • Creeps on hands and feet (10-12 mo) 3

  • Walks with both hands held (10-12 mo) 3

  • Cooperates with dressing by extending arm or leg (10.5-12 mo) 3

  • Walks with one hand held (11-13 mo) 3
  • Walks alone two to three steps (11.5-13.5 mo) 3

University of Maryland




  • Points to objects with index finger4

  • Have a precise pincer grasp4

University of Michigan, Developmental Milestones by the End of 12 Months:




  • Finger-feeds himself5

  • Extends arm or leg to help when being dressed 5

Movement (used to get needs met)



  • Reaches sitting position without assistance5

  • Crawls forward on belly5

  • Assumes hands-and-knees position5

  • Creeps on hands and knees5

  • Gets from sitting to crawling or prone (lying on stomach) position5

  • Pulls self up to stand5

  • Walks holding on to furniture5

  • Stands momentarily without support5

  • May walk two or three steps without support5



Outcome 1: Social-Emotional Skills and Behaviors
Two-year-olds enjoy playing alongside other children, but usually keep to themselves. When conflicts arise, adults need to step in to prevent aggression and teach appropriate behaviors. Children this age are beginning to label feelings that they recognize in themselves and others. Controlling emotions is still difficult, however, so frustration may trigger emotional meltdowns. Comfort objects like blankets or teddy bears help two-year-olds cope with new situations or strong emotions.6

  • Extends trusting relationships to other adults and to children with whom he or she plays frequently; shows preferences for these adults and children (e.g., hugs favorite teacher when he or she arrives at preschool, goes to favorite teacher for comfort after a fall on the playground).6


  • Shows strong sense of self as an individual (e.g., says, "No!" to an adult's request, simply to assert oneself).6

  • Recognizes feelings when emotions are labeled by adult (e.g., teacher says, "I know you feel scared about that," and the child calms a bit). Increases his or her understanding and use of language related to emotions (e.g., says, "Mommy's happy now."). Expands his or her understanding of what others' feelings mean (e.g., looks at father's expression and says, "Why you mad, Papa?").6

  • Continues to find the regulation of emotions difficult. As a result, frustration may still trigger tantrums. Uses a wider range of coping strategies (e.g., comfort objects, words that label feelings). Continues to need a great deal of adult support.6

  • Enjoys playing alongside other children, but doesn't interact a great deal with them (e.g., two children sit in the sandbox, each occupied independently with pails, but with a comfortable awareness that the other child is there).6

  • Depending on his or her exposure to other children, may start to have favorite playmates and warm bonds with others (e.g., Anna asks about Nicholas when he is absent from the child care program for a few days).6

  • Shows awareness of others' feelings. May try to give basic help (e.g., watches the teacher to see if she will come to the aid of a child who is crying; pats or hugs the child who is sad).6

  • Looks to adults for comfort when conflict happens (e.g., when a child takes all the crayons at child care, Lauren runs to teacher and hugs her around the knees). With much adult support, begins to develop some strategies for resolving conflicts constructively (e.g., with teacher at his side, Walton says, "It MY shovel, Darrell!).6
  • Has a growing interest in and ability to perform routine tasks independently (e.g., puts napkins on the table before dinner).6


  • May ask many "why," "what," and "how" questions about a variety of sights, sounds, and experiences (e.g., asks, "Why mommy cry?").6

American Academy of Pediatrics




  • More aware of herself as separate from others1

  • More excited about company of other children1

  • Separation anxiety increases toward midyear then fades1

  • Begins to show defiant behavior1

HELP



  • Expresses affection—range of affectionate expressions (18-24 mo)3

  • Shows jealousy at attention given to others—may regress, become aggressive, whiny (18-24 mo)3

  • Shows a wide variety of emotions, e.g. fear, anger, sympathy, joy—not limited to concrete expressions such as hitting, biting, tantrums (18-24 mo)3

  • Feels easily frustrated—should be able to handle some frustration and be able to recover and move on (18-24 mo)3

  • Interacts with peers using gestures—predominantly aggressive, pushing, pulling, grabbing; pats, waves, sharing (18-24 mo)3

  • Engages in parallel play—plays next to other children doing similar activity; some interaction e.g. toy exchange (18-24 mo)3

  • Attempts to comfort others in distress—e.g. cries or pats when others cry (22-24 mo)3

  • Defends possessions—e.g. saying ‘mine’, snatching away own toy from someone (23-24 mo)3

University of Michigan, Developmental Milestones by the End of 2 Years:



  • Imitates behavior of others, especially adults and older children

  • Increasingly aware of herself as separate from others

  • Increasingly enthusiastic about company of other children

  • Demonstrates increasing independence

  • Begins to show defiant behavior

  • Episodes of separation anxiety increase toward midyear then fade



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