Learning to talk has many steps. Children must have ‘prelinguistic’ skills before using words to communicate. But which skill is a predictor of future language development?

Joint attention is an example of a prelinguistic skill that I practice with most toddlers. I do this because joint attention can be a predictor of future language development.

Joint attention is your child’s understanding that you can both pay attention to the same object or event. Children show this skill by following an eye gaze or a point. Another way to describe this skill is that it is the sharing of an experience between a child and a communication partner (e.g. the caregiver at young stages).

Early joint attention skills include reaching to be picked up by a caregiver, pointing to a toy, or looking at a book together. Later joint attention skills include focusing on a game, or requesting a favourite food.

One way to work on this skill is through ‘block play’. Download the free resource below to see what I do in my therapy sessions and to practice this essential skill at home!