Boosting Young Children’s Language Skills

Children love to role play by taking on new and different roles—and it’s the perfect opportunity to help them expand their language skills.

By Anne E. Mead, Ed. D.

As you engage in everyday activities in your home, pretend to be favorite characters from storybooks or TV shows. Encourage your child to express the perspectives of their characters; for example, Cookie Monster might want to eat everything in sight, and Goldilocks might forget her manners and need to be reminded.

Look at the world through new lenses. Let your young learners see the world through “rose-colored glasses”—literally! Using cellophane in different colors, cover a simple card-board frame, a magnifying glass, a cardboard tube, or binoculars. Ask the children to look through and describe the new colorful world they see or tell a creative story about why the world has become pink, blue, or green.

Pretend to be animals. Animals easily capture the imaginations of children. Read your young learner books that invite you to pretend to be animals or to imitate their movements. As you try out a turtle’s crawl or a lion’s strut together, get kids talking about what they’re doing and feeling.

Eat—and talk about—foods from around the world. Let your child handle, smell, and taste

diverse foods with different flavors and textures, such as coconut, kiwi, curry, passion fruit,

chutney, plantains, ackee, chili, papaya, dulce de leche, and tomatillos. Chat with your child about the colors, tastes, and textures, as well as where the foods come from and how they are harvested or prepared.

Experiment with balance. Your child will take pride in building super-tall towers and long bridges with blocks. Expand on their block play by asking your child what happens when they put something heavy on the very top of a tower or on one end of a bridge or seesaw. Find images of real bridges, see-saws, scales, and towers, and talk about what makes them balanced or “tippy.”

Practice the ABC song, rhymes, and counting. Songs about letters and numbers are fun and easy to practice during spare moments during the day, such as cleaning up or taking a walk in your community. Fill the bathtub with small plastic toys and talk about how many your child can find and have your child count them as they hand them to you.

Discuss and try different artistic techniques. Read to children from beautiful picture books illustrated by authors such as Ezra Jack Keats, Leo Lionni, and Eric Carle. Talk about the techniques the artists used. Then have child make their own books using materials such as watercolors, paste, paper, cloth scraps, ribbon, foil, string, stamps, greeting cards, and box tops. When they’re done, they can read their book to you.

For more information on free activities such as Play to Learn Playgroups to do with your child to increase their language skills, call the Danbury Public School’s Family & Community Center at 203-797-4734.

Anne E. Mead, Ed. D. is the Director of Family, School, and Community Partnerships for Danbury Public Schools. She can be reached at 203-830-6508 or by email at