Early Learning Stages
This is a sequence of early stages that many learners seem to pass through as they develop their ability to use a word board.
Throughout all the stages you will want to be careful to be constantly modeling the next few words you will expect your learner to learn. For example, if you are following the sequence we recommend here, you will want to be routinely saying OUTSIDE, PLAY, ALL DONE, TOY, WATER, FOOD and LOVE YOU.
Your learner has no understanding of how to use or press a button. During this stage you are teaching your learner to press a button independently. Chances are this button will be placed near to the thing that it refers to. For example, in the case of OUTSIDE the button would be by the door.
Your learner is in Stage 1 when they know that they can press a button and that you will respond when they do so, even if they don't specifically understand what the button refers to.
Your learner is in Stage 2 when they regularly and appropriately press the button you've taught them to use. E.g. in the case of OUTSIDE, they press it when they want to go outside. They may also press it when you are coming back in.
During this stage you should add a button corresponding to your learner's next word.
Your learner is in Stage 3 if you are modeling multiple words for them and they are paying attention while you do so, even if they aren't demonstrating much understanding of what each of the other words mean.
Your learner is in Stage 4 once they are appropriately using multiple buttons. Once this is the case, you can consider consolidating your buttons in a central location.