LITERACY MILESTONES BY GRADE LEVEL

For more information on age-by-age language, literacy, and learning skills, you can visit understood.org


COMMUNICATION MILESTONES BY GRADE LEVEL

KINDERGARTEN
In kindergarten, most kids understand and can use thousands of words, usually in sentences five to eight words long. 

Listening

  • Follow 1-2 simple directions in a sequence
  • Listen to and understand age-appropriate stories read aloud
  • Follow a simple conversation

Speaking

  • Be understood by most people
  • Answer simple "yes/no" questions
  • Answer open-ended questions (e.g., "What did you have for lunch today?")
  • Retell a story or talk about an event
  • Participate appropriately in conversations
  • Show interest in and start conversations
  • Use most plurals, pronouns and tenses correctly
  • Tell stories, jokes and riddles; may understand simple puns
  • Use language to talk about opposites and compare things (“That black cat is smaller than the white one.”)
  • Talk about things that are going to happen as well as things that have already happened

 

FIRST GRADE
By this age, your child may use language in long and complicated sentences to tell about past, present and future. He may start combining spoken language with reading and writing this year. First graders typically:

Listening

  • Know, use and understand thousands of words
  • Remember information
  • Respond to instructions
  • Follow 2-3 step directions in a sequence

Speaking

  • Be easily understood
  • Answer more complex "yes/no" questions
  • Tell and retell stories and events in a logical order
  • Express ideas with a variety of complete sentences
  • Use most parts of speech (grammar) correctly
  • Ask and respond to "wh" questions (who, what, where, when, why)
  • Stay on topic and take turns in conversation
  • Give directions
  • Start conversations
  • Start sounding out words; understand the relationship between letters and sounds

 

SECOND GRADE
Language development typically continues at a steady pace over the next few years years. Vocabulary grows and kids start trying out words they have read but not heard. By the end of second grade most children:

Listening

  • Follow 3-4 oral directions in a sequence
  • Understand direction words (e.g., location, space, and time words)
  • Correctly answer questions about a grade-level story

Speaking

  • Be easily understood
  • Answer more complex "yes/no" questions
  • Ask and answer "wh" questions (e.g., who, what, where, when, why)
  • Use increasingly complex sentence structures
  • Clarify and explain words and ideas
  • Give directions with 3-4 steps
  • Use oral language to inform, to persuade, and to entertain
  • Stay on topic, take turns, and use appropriate eye contact during conversation
  • Open and close conversation appropriately

 

THIRD GRADE
By the end of third grade, most children can do these things:

Listening

  • Listen attentively in group situations
  • Understand grade-level material

Speaking

  • Speak clearly with an appropriate voice
  • Ask and respond to questions
  • Participate in conversations and group discussions
  • Use subject-related vocabulary
  • Stay on topic, use appropriate eye contact, and take turns in conversation
  • Summarize a story accurately
  • Explain what has been learned

 

FOURTH GRADE
By the end of third grade, most children can do these things:

Listening

  • Listen to and understand information presented by others
  • Form opinions based on evidence
  • Listen for specific purposes

Speaking

  • Use words appropriately in conversation
  • Use language effectively for a variety of purposes
  • Understand some figurative language (e.g., "the forest stretched across…")
  • Participate in group discussions
  • Give accurate directions to others
  • Summarize and restate ideas
  • Organize information for clarity
  • Use subject area information and vocabulary (e.g., social studies) for learning
  • Make effective oral presentations

 

FIFTH GRADE
By the end of third grade, most children can do these things:

Listening

  • Listen and draw conclusions in subject area learning activities

Speaking

  • Make planned oral presentations appropriate to the audience
  • Maintain eye contact and use gestures, facial expressions, and appropriate voice during group presentations
  • Participate in class discussions across subject areas
  • Summarize main points
  • Report about information gathered in group activities

 

MIDDLE SCHOOL AND HIGH SCHOOL
As a fourth and fifth grader, your child’s language skills probably didn’t change much. In middle school, though, language skills typically develop quickly. You might notice that your child is better able to understand what people communicate—with or without words. In middle school, children often:

Source: www.understood.org; www.asha.org