Preschoolers are very social, which can be seen in the way they seek out interactions with other children. Their language skills are more developed than ever and continue to progress through meaningful interactions with their peers and adults. At this stage, preschoolers are asking a lot of questions, speaking more clearly, and telling stories. Preschoolers’ language development has an effect on their daily lives, including other areas of development.
A strong foundation in language development helps children in their social and emotional development, too. As your preschooler progresses with their language development they become more aware and understanding of the people around them. Preschoolers’ new found understanding of the concept of “mine” and “his”, along with their growing ability to carry two-way conversations make them better able to successfully engage in cooperative play with their peers. This allows them to be able to participate in more complicated pretend play with their peers, which will also help their language skills progress even further.
Fostering your preschooler’s language development also has a huge impact on their ability to manage their emotions. When they have the words to identify and express their emotions they feel empowered, which makes them feel more in control and it is easier for them to manage their big emotions and find healthy solutions to their problems. Supporting your preschooler’s language development is key in supporting their growth mindset.
Being exposed to as much language as possible is the number one way to foster language development in preschoolers. Here are five fun ways that you can support your child’s language development through play.
1. ENGAGE IN PRETEND PLAY
If you have ever watched a couple of preschoolers engaged in pretend play together, you know that it involves a lot of back and forth communication. One child will tell the other, “Now you are sick” and the other will respond with, “I’m sick. *cough* I need to see the doctor”. They are really creating a story together as they act it out. This type of play builds their vocabulary, teaches them about story structure, and gives them the opportunity to practice back and forth communication.
2. USE PUPPETS
Preschoolers think that puppets are hilarious, especially if you use a different voice for the puppets! You can use puppets to tell stories, ask your preschoolers questions, and just to keep them talking. Let your preschooler use the puppets as well, and they will come up with some stories of their own.
3. READ ENGAGING STORIES
Reading to your preschooler exposes your child to print and helps broaden their vocabulary. Let your preschooler “read” to you, too. Even if your child cannot read yet, having them “read” to you works to build their memory as they try to tell it just like you did. It also let’s them practice proper sentence structure and grammar in a fun way.
4. ASK OPEN-ENDED QUESTIONS
Asking your preschooler open-ended questions is a great way to get your preschoolers talking. You can make it fun, too. Ask them silly questions like, “If you could have any super power what would it be?”. You can extend it by then asking what they would do with their super power. Don’t forget to share your super power of choice with them, too!
5. USE DICTATION
Often times, your preschooler will just draw a picture with no real purpose. Other times, they will draw something and then decide what it is. When you use dictation to put words to your child’s art work you help them build on their ideas. Ask you preschooler, “Will you tell me about your picture?” and write down what they say. Sometimes it will only be a word or two. You can help them build on that by asking more questions. If what they say does not make sense you can help them come up with a complete thought by repeating it in a way that does make sense before writing it down.
Language development in preschoolers is all about how they communicate and interact with others. It is also essential to their social and emotional development. Have fun with your preschooler as you support their development and keep them talking!