[Overton]Speech and Language Development in the Preschool Years

by Victoria Severns, MS, CCC-SLP

Between the ages of three and five a child's language expands rapidly. During this period his vocabulary increases and he works toward mastering the rules of his language. Preschool children develop the ability to tell stories by relating events sequentially, to talk about the past and future using the past and future tenses of verbs, as well as to express temporal and causal relationships. These achievements are the result of small pieces of the language puzzle coming together to form a cohesive whole.

Language acquisition during the preschool years is facilitated when parents imitate, expand, rephrase, and clarify their child's statements. Reading story books together should continue throughout this period as a means of stimulating listening and reasoning abilities. Listening to the details of a story can be encouraged by asking open-ended questions which involve more than merely labeling pictures. The resultant expanded interpretations of pictures and discussions regarding motivation and causality have been shown to produce increased vocabulary and better reading comprehension in school.

While parental involvement plays an integral part in language acquisition, a child's most elaborate language is usually produced while playing with his peers. As preschoolers engage in make believe play with friends they have to use language to assign roles, redefine or transform objects (blocks become fire trucks), and agree on a central theme for play.

The important aspects of language that develop during the preschool years have been described in this article. The chart below lists some of the specific milestones that are achieved during this important time in a child's life. It is hoped that this information will assist in the identification and referral of children exhibiting communication delays so that therapy can be initiated before they enter the primary grades.





If you have questions or need more information you can contact me at:

Overton Speech & Language Center, Inc.
Fort Worth, TX
(817) 294-8408


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Copyright 2001 Overton Speech & Language Center, Inc.
Last revised: February 03, 2001