Make the First Five Years Count

As we prepare for back-to-school season, I’m pleased to share a special guest blog from L’Ornya Bowie, Easterseals DC MD VA’s Senior Director of Child Development Operations.  L’Ornya is an expert in early childhood education, bringing over 20 years’ experience, a Master of Education from Marymount University, and a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Howard University.


Did you know the first five years of your child’s life are fundamentally important? With 80 percent of brain development happening in the first five years of life, these years are the foundation that will shape your child’s future health, happiness, growth, and development. They also play an important role in your child’s future academic achievements and social relationships with family members and the community. During these years, children learn and develop more quickly than at any other time in their lives. Yet in the United States, every year, more than one million children enter school at risk of an undiagnosed developmental delay because they haven’t been screened properly, if at all.

At Easterseals, we want parents to be aware of critical developmental milestones and the signs that may be indications of developmental delays. Even more, we want them to know how to support their children in reaching these milestones and how to access early intervention if needed. Early intervention can make all the difference for a child to succeed alongside his or her peers when entering kindergarten.

As a leading provider of inclusive early care and education services, we are committed to partnering with parents to raise healthy and happy children. Here are some common developmental milestones that your child should reach by the suggested age. If you don’t see these skills developing, or if you have any concerns, talk to your pediatrician. If you need referral services for an evaluation, please email me anytime.


  • Say “mama” and “dada” by age 1.
  • Say the names of a few objects and people by age 1.
  • Attempt nursery rhymes or short TV jingles by age 2.
  • Be understood by people outside the family by age 3.
  • Talk in short sentences by age 3.


  • Try to put toys in mouth by 7 months.
  • Play games such as peek-a-boo, patty cake and wave good-bye by age 1.
  • Play group games such as hide-and-seek or tag with other children by age 4.
  • Share and take turns by age 5.


  • Respond to name when called by age 1.
  • Identify hair, eyes, ears, nose, and mouth by pointing to them by age 2.
  • Understand simple stories told or read by age 3.
  • Give reasonable answers to simple questions such as, “What do you do when you are sleepy?” or “What do you do when you are hungry?” by age 4.
  • Understand the meaning of the words “today,” “tomorrow,” and “yesterday” by age 5.


  • Hold head up when lying on tummy by 3 months.
  • Roll over by 8 months.
  • Sit up without help or support by 9 months.
  • Crawl on hands and knees by age 1.
  • Walk by age 2.
  • Walk down steps by age 3.
  • Balance on one foot for a short time by age 4.
  • Throw and catch a large bouncing ball by age 5.


  • Open hands by 3 months.
  • Bat and swipe at toys by 4 months.
  • Pass toys from one hand to the other by 9 months.
  • Pick up little objects like Cheerios by 10 months.
  • Bang toys together by 11 months.


  • Drink from a cup and use a spoon by 2 years.
  • Help with getting dressed by 3 years.
  • Dress without supervision by 5 years.


For a more comprehensive assessment, consider taking Easterseals’ Confidential Make the First Five Count Screening Tool. This tool guides you with questions so that you can evaluate your child’s growth and development during the first five years. You can use the free tool when your child is at least 4-weeks-old until five-years-old. The sooner you address a developmental delay or special need, the better long-term success you can expect for your child’s overall well-being. Early intervention is key.

To learn more about Easterseals’ inclusive early care and education services, and how we can help your child reach his or her potential, click here.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s