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Ready for Kindergarten? Improving Language Skills in Your Child

Improving your child’s language skills for kindergarten? Let’s talk about it! Watching your child grow into a talkative young human is exciting. But what are the benchmarks you should expect when it comes to learning a language, speaking skills, and prepping your child for kindergarten? We surveyed more than 500 kindergarten teachers and asked what parents can do to better prepare their kids when it comes to oral language and early childhood education.

First, parents should know that by the time children complete preschool and enter elementary school, they should be able to:

  • Speak in complete sentences.
  • Have a conversation about a topic that lasts for more than a minute.
  • Identify numbers and counting with both verbal and written activities.
  • Understand verbal requests and instructions.
  • Describe things in his or her environment.

All these elements come down to young children being able to recognize common language patterns, and how many words they can understand and use.

All these elements come down to young children being able to recognize common language patterns, and how many words they can understand and use.

Before you grab a pen and paper and try to tally how many vocabulary words your child can say, understand that the estimated number of words a young language learner should know varies widely, and there is no easy way to measure it. Your target language goals should be to ensure your child can name things in the surrounding environment, understand and use words for actions and emotions, and have a handle on descriptive words.

1. SPEAKING.To help children develop oral language skills, talk with them about what they are seeing and experiencing. Like a volleyball game, you are serving up vocabulary words to spike into a conversation! Use things like color, size, shape, and other qualities, and encourage your child to contribute. For example, rather than asking, “Do you see the kitty?” ask, “Do you see that big fuzzy cat with the long, white whiskers? What is she doing?”

2. READING.Another way to improve English language skills is to read to and with your child. When your child is learning to read, find books with interesting pictures that spark the imagination. Not only is reading aloud good for a child, but be sure to talk about and ask what is happening within those images as well. Remember the last reading strategy? Don’t forget to serve up those descriptive words here as well!

Other things like television, websites, and tablets can all help with building language skills and a child’s vocabulary, but keep in mind that the words in the TV program should have a clear connection to the images being shown. Also, the pace of the show should be slow enough so there are opportunities to make connections to what is being seen and heard.

When it comes to websites and apps, children learn best when the content is voiced clearly and there is a distinct connection to what the child is seeing.

3. LISTENING & 4. WRITING.When it comes to websites and apps, children learn best when the content is voiced clearly and there is a distinct connection to what the child is seeing. Listening is just half of oral language development. When you keep your child talking about life experiences on-screen or off, the more he or she will learn! The same goes with making writing fun! With note cards, sidewalk chalk, or a notebook, children can practice letter formations or just draw and scribble as they start to develop literacy skills and language skills.

For reading comprehension, the step-by-step curriculum starts with preschool reading and phonics. With help from our educational program, your child will be able to apply the sounds to letters and begin to recognize groups of words with the same ending sound (hot, pot, not, etc.). Then, as reading skills progress, your child can move on to developing reading fluency with more advanced material at his or her own pace. There are thousands of activities to help with letters, sight words, word families, and reading and writing skills in a fully interactive environment.

Keep the conversation going with your child no matter what’s being learned. Building basic language skills is a partnership, and reading is the glue that holds it together!