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Reading & Language

Preschooler Language Development Milestones

Girls playing in a tunnel3 to 4 Years: Weaving Worlds With Words

At this stage, your child uses her ever-increasing language skills to become a “big talker” and develops an awareness of the power of the written word. Parents and caregivers of preschoolers can help them develop into readers and writers by playing with letters and their sounds, promoting dramatic play using characters from books, and reading lots of books together.

Through his own daily experiences, your preschooler learns more and more about the way things work in the world and his place in it. At the same time, he is able to use his ever-increasing vocabulary and language skills to share his observations, ideas, and imaginary worlds with other children and adults. Young children can be entertaining storytellers, engaging conversational partners, and frustrating negotiators. During the preschool years, your child will become aware that the world is filled with letters and may begin to recognize familiar words.

You can help your preschooler become an eager reader and writer through simple conversations and reading together. It helps to plan regular times to read with your young child and talk together daily about things that interest him. You can turn everyday experiences such as waiting in lines, doing errands, and riding the bus into conversation starters. By talking about your child’s ideas, observations, and feelings, you prepare your young child for reading and writing about the world.

How to Help Your Preschooler Get Ready for Reading

  • Point to the words as you read aloud. When you point to the words as you read or talk about the title and author, you help your child learn about the different parts of the book. You also show him that reading involves connecting spoken words to printed ones.
  • Repeat your child’s words the right way. Most young children make grammatical errors while they are learning to talk. Instead of correcting, try repeating your child’s words the correct way. This way, you teach her proper grammar and demonstrate that making mistakes is how we learn.
  • Join your child in pretend play. Pretending actually helps children develop language and literacy skills. They use new words and ways of speaking when they play different roles. They also practice making up stories, a skill that helps them understand books read aloud to them.
  • Make up rhymes as you go about your day. Rhyming and other kinds of word play help your child to hear differences between sounds to understand that words are made up of sounds. Being able to rhyme will actually help your child learn to read and write.
  • Draw and write alongside your child. One way to encourage your child to write is to show him how you write. When you write, talk to him about what you are doing. That way, you teach your child how we use writing in everything from grocery lists to phone messages.
  • Next: Learn about your preschooler’s listening abilities.

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