10 Easy Ways to Promote Speech and Language Development In Preschoolers

Kids need to play. They learn. They laugh. They smile. Although it may look like they are only playing kitchen, a lot is going on in their developing brain. It is widely known that children learn best through play. This is especially true for new words and language development. Preschoolers are in a critical period for developing speech and language skills, and there are many EASY ways to promote this development through play. Do not stress. Good news! You can help your little one along these crucial years of child development without too much difficulty.

Here are 10 simple ways to promote speech and language development in young children:

1. Encourage speaking and listening opportunities through nursery rhymes

Nursery rhymes are a great way to encourage speaking and listening opportunities through play. Not only are they enjoyable for children, but they also play an important role in the early years of literacy development. Nursery rhymes help children to develop new vocabulary and learn about the world around them. They also provide a chance for children to practice their communication skills. When nursery rhymes are combined with pretend play, they offer an even richer learning experience.

Nursery rhymes allow young children to be silly while learning. You can sing them in the car, going on a walk, or while hanging at home. That is the BEST part. You can add them anywhere. You can make different character sounds, practice letters, colors, animal sounds; there are so many nursery rhymes and so many options.

A few family favorites:

2. Use simple, clear language when talking to your child.

You might be surprised at how much your child can understand. Remember their first words? Remember how cute it was to listen to the baby talk. Maybe you wondered when they would start talking and now they won’t stop. A child’s language skills grow leaps and bounds in the first few years of life. Our family is seriously impressed with the nonstop talking at our dinner table. The youngest one talks the most. We joke around, and say she is four going on fourteen.

Talk to them using new words. My friends joke around with me about how I talk to my preschooler like she is a grown-up. But truth be told, they understand so much more than you think. Instead of saying “Be careful that vase can break. I say, ” Be careful that vase is fragile.” Simple language, but stronger vocabulary word.

There is a ton of research on early childhood vocabulary development. Don’t be afraid to use more sophisticated words. According to https://scholarworks.uni.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1601&context=grp, “The greater a child’s vocabulary knowledge, the easier it will be for them to be able to read a text and decode words that they might not know (NPR, 2000).” My advice to new parents is to talk to your child using grown-up words and watch them use them in return. You will be impressed with how quickly they can learn and apply new language skills. I know I was!

3. Read aloud to your child every day.

Reading aloud to your child is one of the best ways to help them develop new vocabulary and improve their listening skills. It also helps to foster a love of reading, which is essential for success in school. Choose books that are appropriate for your child’s age and interests. Follow your child’s lead. Let them choose them select books based on interest. We want to keep them excited and engaged. We want to foster of love of books as early as possible. Building a strong relationship with books at a young age is the one of the best language development activities that you can implement.

Ask them questions about the story as you read, and encourage them to retell the story in their own words. I have a couple of recent articles alongside this topic that may pique your interest:

4.) Talk about the pictures in the story.

While reading a book together, talk about the pictures in the book. ask your child questions about the pictures, and encourage them to share their thoughts and feelings about what they see. My daughter has observed fine details in the illustrations that I would have otherwise skipped over. As an adult, we don’t rely on pictures for comprehension, but our little ones do. Discussing the pictures will help to improve their comprehension and communication skills. They will impress you with their knowledge and vocabulary.

5). Give your child plenty of opportunities to play with other children.

Do you have playdates? Make friends at the park? I love when I can catch Kristen chatting with a new four-year-old friend. I try to stay unnoticed so she doesn’t become shy or filter what she is saying.

Social interaction is an important part of speech and language development. When children play with other children, they have the opportunity to practice their communication skills. They also learn how to take turns, share, and resolve conflicts.

Don’t you just love to listen to your child play? Sometimes I will sit and listen as, Kristen my four-year daughter, pretend plays with her Barbies. She will talk with them for a solid hour, and I love to witness it all. If she sees me, she will stop playing. I watch discreetly. It is one of my favorite things, because I know this is a fleeting stage and it won’t last too much longer.

boy in orange crew neck t-shirt standing in front of white wooden table with cupcakes
Pretend play…Oh so fun!

6. Encourage your child to tell you stories.

Do you have a bedtime routine? Can you change it up? Instead of you reading to your child, let them tell you a story. Don’t interrupt. Let their imagination run wild. Some children will merge multiple plot lines and create the most magnificent story. If you could secretly record, you will have a great keepsake for years to come. I also have Kristen dictate a story to me in the afternoon. Then at night, I will read her the story she has “written.” She loves to hear her own creations. Believe they don’t always make sense, but that is all part of the fun. Stories are a great way for children to practice their communication skills.

7. Encourage your child to use new words.

When your child uses a new word, repeat it back to them and use it in a sentence. This will help them to remember the new word and how to use it correctly. It is also a great way to expand their vocabulary. You can also ask your child questions that require them to use new words.

For example, “Can you please get me the book that is on the table?” This will encourage them to use new words and help them to learn new vocabulary. You are helping to develop their oral language skills. You are doing this in a fun and playful way. You could also roll play to develop vocabulary:

Play cashier

Play grocery store

Play hair salon

Play doctor

Play veterinarian

Play house

Play school

Play toy telephone

We all know our preschoolers love to play pretend. You can really enhance your child’s vocabulary while having fun. They will learn new communication skills every day if you can build role play into your weekly or even daily routines.

boy sitting while holding electronic device part
Tell me what your building.

8. Play games that require communication.

There are so many great games that you can play with your child that will encourage communication. You can have meaningful conversations about rules and how to play games when they get to kindergarten. Here are a few of our favorites:

-I Spy: This is a great game to play when you are in the car or waiting in line. It is also a great way to teach your child new vocabulary words.

-Simon Says: This is a great game to play with a group of children. It helps them to follow directions and pay attention.

-Charades: This is a great game for all ages. It requires children to use their communication skills to describe the word or phrase. your child to ask questions. This will help them to develop their communication skills. When they ask a question, answer it clearly and concisely.

-Story Stones: This is a great game for Storytelling. It helps to improve communication and literacy skills. I have this adorable set from Amazon. It can be used as a craft activity and story-telling game. Win-win!

9. Create an encouraging environment.

Make sure that your child feels comfortable communicating with you. This means that you need to be patient and listen attentively. Avoid interrupting and give them the time to finish their thoughts.Make eye contact and let them know you are listening to them. This will help them to feel respected and encourage them to communicate more with you. I know sometimes they can go on and on. It is so cute, right?! But we have to let them and encourage them to use language appropriately.

10. Encourage your child to ask questions.

Asking questions is a great way for children to practice their communication skills. When they ask a question, answer it clearly and concisely. This will help them to understand the concept and encourage them to ask more questions. Asking questions is also a great way for children to learn new information.

If you are concerned about your child’s speech or language development, it is important to seek professional help. A speech-language pathologist can assess your child and provide you with recommendations for treatment. You can reach out to your local school to request a speech and language evaluation.


I hope you found these tips helpful. Do you have any tips that you would add to the list? Please share in the comments below.

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