Developing Language Skills-Activities
- Being able to perceive, produce, and use words to understand and communicate with others is essential for children to get along well with other people and to learn how to read and write. Children develop language skills by hearing, seeing, doing, and repeating.
- Read together every day: Talk about the pictures and ask your child to tell you what's happening. Go to the library and check out books together. Most libraries also have a free story time.
- Sing simple songs or recite nursery rhymes. Once your child knows a song or a rhyme well, surprise your child with funny changes (e.g., a cow says "oink" and a pig says "meow")
- Make up a story or act out a common task with your child (e.g., cooking food, going to the doctor). Use puppets, dolls, and other toys as story props to make it more fun. You can make a book of your child's story, or if you have a video camera, you can film your child's movie.
- Talk about daily activities as they happen, such as the steps to make breakfast each morning (e.g., "First we get a bowl then we get the cereal."). Wherever you go, describe the smells, sounds, people, and things you see.
- Expand your child's language by answering him or her with a well formed sentence that includes a new word or idea. For example, if your child says "Truck broke," you might respond by saying, "The truck is broken. It needs a new wheel."
- Play games with sounds and words, such as clapping out syllables of words, finding an object that starts with a certain sound or letter, and playing opposite-word games (e.g., "Soup is hot but ice cream is _____.").
- Show that printed words have meaning by showing examples other than in books, such as signs on your street and items like food boxes.
- In the bath using foam letters, have your child stick the letters on the bathtub wall and make up words or spell a name. Whatever he or she spells, try to sound it out, even if it is a nonsense word!
- Encourage use of any language your child hears often. Young children's brains can understand more than one language.
The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association offers information representing, on average, the age by which most children speaking one language will be able to do certain things. The website provides a chart of what your child should be able to do and ideas for activities to improve skills.
The Reading Rockets website features reading tips for parents of preschoolers, including tip sheets in other languages. Reading Rocket is an educational first step of WETA, the most popular public television and radio station in Washington D.C. and is funded by a major grant from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs.
With only four letters in the beginning Bob Books, your child can sound out all the words and read the book on his or her own, thus increasing confidence.
The Learning Disabilities Association of America has published a speech and language chart online.
Thirty one fun activities for you and your child (ages 3-5) to do together to help build literacy skills.
The Family Education Network shares activity ideas for your preschool-aged child to build learning skills.
This streaming video program features Screen Actors Guild members reading children's books.
PBS Ready to Learn Program.