Patient EducationAug | 13 | 2019
Building Your Preschooler's Language Skills
What are the different types of language?
The 2 types of language are:
- Expressive language. This includes the sounds, words or gestures that your child uses to communicate his needs, wants or feelings.
- Receptive language. This includes how well your child understands what others are communicating.
How can I help build my child's expressive and receptive language?
To help build expressive language:
- Build on what your child says by one or two words. For example, your child might say “Daddy goes bye-bye.” Then you might say “Yes, Daddy went to the store.”
- Set up your child’s surroundings so he has more chances to use everyday words. For example, put out a snack or toy out of reach so your child must ask for it by name.
- Give choices in daily activities. For example, you might say “Would you like to hop or walk to the bathroom?”
- Talk about the relationship between things and events. For example, you might say “Look at the big truck. That is a different color than Daddy’s truck.” Or you might say “You went to the doctor because you were sick.”
To help build receptive language:
- Help your child finish a direction by giving hand-over-hand help as needed. This means holding or guiding your child’s hand as he finishes a task or activity.
- Ask questions about daily activities or play. For example, you might say “What are those kids doing at the park?” or “Where should we go now?”
- Play games like “I Spy” or “Simon Says.”
- Describe (color, shape, function) and ask questions about new and everyday things.
What else can I do to help my child's language development?
- Limit screen time. Children learn language and social skills best by interacting with other people. Research suggests that the more time children play with smart phones, tablets or other screens, the more likely they are to have a language delay.
- Read with your child every day. Talk about more than just the name for things. (For example, you might say “That is a big dog!” instead of “That is a dog.”) Talk about actions and what might come next. You might say “The dog is eating and then it is nap time.” Ask questions like “What is the dog eating?”
- Visit your local library and borrow books about things your child likes.
- Play with your child. Play with whatever your child is interested in. Encourage your child to play pretend with dolls, blocks, houses, animals, cars or other things he likes.
- Practice “serve and return” with your child. Imagine a game of tennis or ping-pong. Watch your child for “serves” (looking or pointing at something). Then, you can “return” by making a sound, facial expression or by naming the object. For example, if your child points to a toy car, you could say, “I see the toy car too!” You can also pick up and name the object your child is focused on.
Does speaking a second language at home cause a language delay?
No. The best way you can support language development is to use sentences with correct words and grammar. Use a wide range of vocabulary in your strongest language.
Hearing more than one language does not cause or raise your child’s risk of language delay. Do not delay a referral for speech and language services if your child is learning more than one language at home.
What is a speech and language evaluation?
A speech and language evaluation is an appointment at which a Speech Language Pathologist (SLP) evaluates and treats language delays or disorders of communication, reading or swallowing.
What is early childhood special education?
If you or your pediatrician have concerns about your child’s development, a request to your public school can be made for a “core evaluation.” If your child needs services for a language delay following the evaluation, you will meet to discuss different speech and language therapy options. Services are designed for young children (ages 3-5) who need specially designed instruction or related services to take part in developmentally appropriate preschool activities.