A child’s brain is like a sponge. From birth, an infant begins to pick up on certain vocal cues such as intonation, including positive and negative accentuations. While still not knowing any words, the infant begins near the 6-month point to respond to voices and noises by turning her head in their direction. At 6 months, the baby can sense when someone is speaking angrily or happily.
6 Months to 1 Year
The baby is on his way to understanding simple instructions, particularly if accompanied by body language and other helpful cues. By 1 year, the baby is mumbling certain unrecognizable words, and perhaps can make out a word or two and understand their meaning.
1 Year to 2 Years
This year marks a significant leap in language development. By 18 months, the child will know anywhere from five to 20 words and is better able to follow instructions. She will be using predominantly nouns. As the child gets closer to 2 years, she can name a significant number of nouns, particularly those in her familiar surroundings. At this point, her vocabulary should have increased to approximately 150 to 300 words.
2 Years to 4 Years
During this period the child begins to learn how to use pronouns, some prepositions and verbs. He can identify body parts and will have a vocabulary somewhere in the vicinity of 900 to 1,000 words. At 3 years old, he should recognize his age and gender. Moving closer to 4 years old, the child will know many animal names and colors, and be able to repeat words and follow easy commands.
4 Years to 6 Years
While many changes occur during this time, they are primarily in the way of an increased vocabulary, sensitivity to social cues and progress toward unique self-expression. The child will be able to use adjectives and adverbs, count up to 10, and use fairly complex sentences. He will be able to repeat nine-word sentences if asked to recall them.
6 Years to 7 Years
At 7 years old, the child should be able to do some reading and write many words. He should be able to tell time and understand concepts such as start and finish, similar and different, and so on. The years forward mark the progress in these complex functions and a race to acquire as many words as the spongy brain can absorb.