#285 11 Skills Toddlers Use BEFORE Words Emerge. #7 Understands What Words Mean


Today we’re continuing our series with the 11 skills toddlers must master before words emerge. Today we’re talking about skill #7 – Understanding Familiar Words. SLPs refer to this skill as receptive language, language comprehension, or auditory (hearing) comprehension. Children must understand words before they begin to use words meaningfully. In this show, we’re talking about the significant role receptive language plays in developing early communication skills. Below you’ll find my list of early receptive language goals. The best part of the show is finding out tips for working with toddlers to make sure they learn to understand familiar words and complete simple requests. Listen here or with the player below:

My list of early receptive language goals:

  1. Identify familiar people and objects – For example, when you ask, “Where’s Daddy?” the child looks toward his father. When you say, “Give me the ball,” the child hands you the ball.
  2. Understand early concepts – For example, the child begins to understand familiar action words such as eat, sleep, and jump and location words like in, out, up, and down.
  3. Follow simple directions  – For example, “Give me your cup,” or “Go get your shoes” and familiar commands like “No” and “Stop.”
  4.  Respond consistently to her name – Toddlers should recognize and respond to their names during the first year.
  5. Points to body parts on request – Shows you familiar body parts such as eyes, nose, mouth, feet, belly/tummy/stomach and hair when you ask, “Where’s your ____?”

Later receptive language goals addressed in this show too:

  1. Identifies familiar pictures
  2. Follows 2 step directions

We also discussed how you can use a child’s special interests, even when it’s a splinter skill or academic concept (such as numbers, letters, colors, and shapes), to help a child learn how to follow directions when that’s been a challenge for a child (and parents!).

If you need more specific ideas for working on receptive language, I mentioned some fantastic resources for you! Here’s the list:

Teach Me To Talk: The Therapy Manual

Teach Me To Listen and Obey 1 & 2


Click here for the next show.


If you need to catch up in this series, here are the previous shows: 

#275 Introduction Show – Why These Skills are Important

#276 Overview of Skills 1 – 5

#277 Overview of Skills 6 – 11

#278 Responds to Things in the Environment

#279 Responds to People

#280 Building an Attention Span

#281 Developing Joint Attention

#282 –  Developing Early Play Skills (part one)

#283 – Early Play  Skills (part two)

#284 Understands Gestures


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