11 Skills to Master Before Talking

Monday, March 8th, 2021

By Lauren Polster, M.S., CCC-SLP

Toddlers meet many communication milestones prior to words emerging! The child will…
  1. Consistently reacts to things they see, hear, and feel. Responding is the foundation for interacting and communicating.
  2. Respond to people when they talk to or play with them. The child enjoys being around other people and responds to them consistently. Communicating always involves at least two people.
  3. Participate in extended back & forth exchanges with others. Turn taking is how all of us become interactive and conversational.
  4. Develop a longer attention span and can stay with an activity for at least 5 minutes alone and even longer with others. Attention is essential for learning anything new!
  5. Shift their attention between an object and you while you’re sharing the same focus. Kids learn to understand words and talk by listening to the important things other people want to share.
  6. Play well with many different toys and uses familiar objects in everyday routines. Children learn almost everything and have opportunities for language through playing!
  7. Understand early words and follows simple directions. A child must understand words before they can use those words to communicate.
  8. Vocalize or makes sounds purposefully. They can use their voice to get your attention.
  9. Imitate what they hear and see other people say and do (including gestures, actions, sounds, and words).
  10. Communicate nonverbally. In typical development, gestures (like waving or pointing) emerge just before words.
  11. Deliberately initiate interaction with others to get their needs met or to play.
Who knew there was so much to accomplish before saying words!