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Early Childhood Education And Your Preschooler's Language Development

What do you need to know about your preschooler's language development? Take a look at the top questions parents have about language skills in the three- to five-year age range and how the daycare or early childhood education environment can help.

What Are Milestones and How Do They Frame Child Development? 

Milestones are developmental markers. These age-graded expectations include language (speech, communication, and literacy skills), social, emotional, cognitive, and physical development. Each developmental area impacts the other, making it sometimes difficult to separate one milestone from another.

Even though milestones are expected markers or developmental goals, these numbers aren't set in stone. Your child is an individual and will develop on their own schedule. This means it's possible that your child could reach some language milestones earlier or later than expected.

Provided your child doesn't have a significant delay or doesn't miss a milestone entirely, you may not need to worry about the precise expected age. Instead, think of milestones as ranges. If you have any doubts, concerns, or questions, talk to a professional. The pediatrician or your child's daycare teacher can help you to understand the milestone in question, discuss your child's development, and (if needed) direct or refer you to a specialist. 

What Speech and Language Milestones Should Your Child Reach By Preschool?

The preschool years typically include the three- to five-year age range. By the time your child reaches the older toddler period (two- to three years old) they should know and use some pronouns, use three-word sentences, understand basic descriptive words, use some plural words, and use some past tense verbs, according to Stanford Medicine Children's Health

Again, not all children reach expected milestones at the same age. If your child recently turned three and they haven't met these milestones, they may need more time. This is what early childhood education is for. The childcare or daycare environment is a safe space where young children can build new abilities and practice existing skills. 

How Might Language Development Change During the Preschool Years?

The older your child gets, their language usage (expressive language) and understanding (receptive language) should become noticeably more complex. While they may not have perfect speech, the people around them should understand most of the sounds they make and the words they say. 

Between the ages of three and four, many children can start to group objects by category, identify and name colors, describe objects they see with the correct words, use "-ing" verbs, and verbally express some emotions or thoughts. By the end of the preschool years, your child could have the developmental ability to follow three-step directions, use sentences that are eight more words long, use their own imagination to create stories, and engage in conversations with their peers and adults.