Early Childhood Intervention: Module One – Typical and Atypical Development

Category — 1.6 Cognitive Development: Pre-Academic/Academic Skills

Pre-Academic/Academic Skills

It is very important to recognize and address the signs of delays in the pre-academic and academic (see full Glossary) areas in young children. Being aware of milestones (see full Glossary) and addressing any difficulties during the early years is likely to make a difference in the child’s learning and progress during his school years, and as he or she grows older. A child with these delays who does not receive help may be at risk when functioning within the school setting and in his/her daily activities.

Between 3 and 5 years old Some signs of pre-academic/academic delays may include the following examples.

If a young child:

  • Does not group or separate toys or other objects, or put them into  categories (see full Glossary); for example, ‘blueberries go in one plate and strawberries go in a different plate;’ (Fig. 1)


Figure 1: An example of categories

  •  Does not match (see full Glossary) pegs, toys or other objects of the same colour (for young preschool children); of the same colour and shape (for older preschool children); of the same colour, shape and size (for children in Kindergarten and older);
  • Does not sort (for example: cannot tell which item goes with which: spoon goes with fork, shorts go with jacket);
  • Does not recognize a pattern and continue it (for example: red blue, red blue…); this is a very important concept in the development of mathematical skills;
  • Does not answer “why” questions (for example: Why do we eat? Why do we sleep?);
  • Does not understand “cause and effect” relations (for example: the reason we can’t play with this toy is because you broke it.);
  • Does not retell basic parts of a story;
  • Does not describe what he or she is doing;
  • Does not think about future events;
  • Does not predict “what will happen next”, (for example: Mom forgot to turn off the water. What do you think will happen?);
  • Does not count (Fig. 2: Counting toes);

counting toes

Figure 2: Counting toes

By age 6 years:

  • Does not tell “which one has more” (for example: a plate with three strawberries and a plate with five strawberries);
  • Does not perform simple addition activities (for example: If you have two pennies and I give you one more, how many will you have?);
  • Does not perform simple subtraction activities (for example: If you have three crayons and I take away one, how many will you have left?);
  • Does not recognize letters of the alphabet;
  • Does not recognize own name in print;
  • Does not read simple words;
  • Does not copy letters (from memory or an example);
  • Does not copy simple words (from memory or an example);
  • Does not copy own name (from memory or an example).

February 24, 2011   No Comments