Encourage language development in your preschooler

Children's language development is likely to progress more rapidly when they are given frequent opportunities to interact with both children and adults.

Talking with adults

Children develop and improve their speech and language skills by talking with their parents and other adults. These discussions also help children form mental images of people, events, and places, which are important milestones in thinking and learning. Talking with adults introduces proper grammar and complex sentences to children. Your child learns from even very simple conversations.

Reading to your child daily helps him or her to develop speech and language skills. Reading together also offers a time of quiet comfort and bonding.

Parents often gain more insight into their children's feelings and thoughts as language skills increase. Sometimes conversations with young children turn up important fears or anxieties that parents can help manage. Keep calm when your child tells you something disturbing. Children do not always express themselves using the same language as adults. For example, a child may say "Johnny wants me to jump off the building at school" and really mean that he is afraid of using certain equipment on the playground.

Talking with other children

Children who frequently play with others who are about the same age usually develop expressive language skills more quickly than those who have contact only with adults. Young children speak very directly and simply, which helps other children learn speech.


Limit TV time to 2 hours a day or less. TV does not seem to encourage or support children's development of speech or language skills. In general, spoken words make little impression unless they are in the context of a conversation with someone the child knows and cares about.

Last Updated: March 26, 2009

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