How to Help Your Preschooler Develop Their Language Skills

    How to Help Your Preschooler Develop Their Language Skills

    Nothing compares to the feeling of when you first hear your child speak. Typically, between one to five years of age, they will show improvements when it comes to speech and language. Nurturing preschooler language development can help your child better express themselves and communicate well with others.

    Speech and Language Development

    With the growth of your child comes the improvement of their language and speech abilities. Growing up in an environment that exposes them to diverse sounds and visuals, as well as being surrounded by people who often communicate will help in nurturing preschooler language development.

    However, if children are not exposed to rich stimuli and are not encouraged to verbalize, this will have a negative effect on your child’s language and speech progression.

    Preschooler’s Speech and Language Milestones

    Discussing the preschooler’s speech and language milestones can be quite complicated because they are usually subdivided per age. Case in point: a 2-year-old child commonly has 50 words under their vocabular, but by the time they are 3, they might know around 250 words and be able to string words into simple sentences.

    Here are the speech and language milestones for children ages 3 to 5:

    • Knows how to use “in” and “on”
    • Aware of the pronouns “me,” “you,” “him,” or “her” – usually, this starts at the age of 2
    • Has the ability to answer simple to complex questions
    • Knows when to use descriptive words when seeing things or describing their feelings such as “happy” and “sad”
    • Parents no longer need to translate their kid’s statements to other people
    • Knows how to identify the usage of objects “he” and “she”
    • Answers “why” questions
    • Can engage in conversations either with their parents or other people
    • Uses 8 or more words in a sentence
    • Being imaginative, has the ability to create and tell stories
    • Starts to use plurals like “dogs” and regular past tense verbs like “walked”
    • Uses majority of the vowel and consonant sounds but may have trouble with some of these vowel speech sounds such as “l,” “r,” and “s.”

    Around this age, young children also know how to use diphthongs (sound from the combination of two vowels) but may still have trouble at times pronouncing “ch,” “sh,” and “th” in their speech.

    Speech and Language and Understanding

    Preschoolers ages 3 to 5 use their skills in language and speech to understand simple, 1 to 2-step instructions. By this age, parents can also have their children do simple tasks such as opening and closing the door and getting food from the kitchen.

    At the age of 3, children may start asking simple “wh” questions (what, where, when, who); at 4, you can expect them to start asking “Why?”

    Speech and Language and Playing

    If you have a preschooler, you may notice that they start to imitate the way you talk. Children this age are beginning to role play and use names as well. They also often mimic the voices of people or characters they see, like their parents. They may match their mother’s higher-pitched voice, or lower their tone to match their father’s. Preschoolers will often start repeating the words their parents say, such as “shhh, quiet, don’t be too loud.”

    Around this age, your preschool will also start communicating with other kids, especially when playing. Children, ages 3-5, will learn how to negotiate when exchanging toys or taking turns in play areas.

    For example, children aged 5 years old can say “You can play with my toy if you let me use your toy” or “I’m done using the slide, it’s your turn now.”

    How to Nurture Language Development?

    Now that you are aware of the skills your child must develop in language and speech, it is best if you continue to communicate and create ways to help your child excel more.

    Here are some tips and activities in nurturing preschooler language development:

    • Speak to your child like how you would speak with adults. Communicate in a clear-modulated voice and use simple words for better understanding. Avoid baby talk as it can negatively affect your child’s language development.
    • Listen to your children when they are speaking. Even if you do not understand some of their statements, listen. It will encourage them to talk as well as build their confidence.
    • Be supportive. When your child is having trouble expressing themselves using words, try your best to encourage them and help them find the right words to say.

    For example, if your child is having trouble expressing that they are tired, try asking “how are you feeling?” “Are you tired?” “do you want to rest?”

    nurturing preschooler language development

    • Help build their communication skills. Ask your child questions that can be answered by a “yes” or “no,” and work your way until your child can answer complex questions. Your child will eventually learn how to answer in full sentences.
    • Grow their vocabulary. Expand your child’s vocabulary by reading stories or watching educational videos. This technique is a fun way in nurturing preschooler language development; however, watching educational shows only work if they are in an active conversation with an adult.
    • Reading is the key to learning. Reading stories aloud helps your child improve their skills in vocabulary, fluency, and comprehension. Read stories that would cater to your child’s interests. This will help them share their insights.
    • Making learning fun with songs and rhymes. Singing nursery rhymes with your child also helps in nurturing preschooler language development. Nursery rhymes are also fun and will be enjoyed by your child.
    • Play. Play games such as “I spy with my little eye” to hone their skills in describing things around them.
    • Mealtime bonding. Include your children in mealtime conversations. This approach will help them feel that they belong and that they have the opportunity to share their thoughts.

    Key Takeaways

    Nurturing preschooler language development entails helping your child learn how to freely express themselves using spoken language. Parents need patience when communicating with their children since they are still trying hard to find the right words to say.

    However, this is truly an exciting time as you can now listen and learn what your child thinks and how they perceive the world around them. From simply cooing and babbling, your kids now are able to engage and converse with you, and show more of their personalities. Parents will delight in how kids are able to show more insight and learn to talk and play with other kids.

    By simply talking, engaging, and listening to their children, parents can do so much in nurturing preschooler language development. Enjoy this time of discovery and expression.

    Learn more about Parenting here.

    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Expertly reviewed by

    Danielle Joanne Villanueva Munji, OTRP

    Occupational Therapy · Kids' S.P.O.T. Learning and Therapy Center, Inc.

    Written by Mayvilyn Cabigao · Updated Oct 18, 2022