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Early EducationResources

Building Your Child’s Language Skills

mother and daughter reading a book

Children start to build language skills during the first years of life. In fact, children who do not get a good start have a lot of trouble catching up later. Children learn language in this order: Listening, Speaking, and Reading.

How Can You Help?

Language is like any other skill. You develop it with practice. Your job is to let your child hear and make lots of sounds and words. Begin by repeating sounds your baby makes. As your child begins to say a few words, respond and build upon what is said. Enjoy talking, singing, and reading with your child!

Help with Listening:

  • Play listening games like Simon Says.
  • Tell stories (make-believe, stories about you growing up, family memories).
  • Sing to, and with, your child. Make up songs, using catchy words and rhymes.

Help with Speaking:

  • Get down on eye level with your child.
  • Respond to what your child is saying and add more ideas. 


Your child says, “Ball.” You say, “See the big blue ball!”

  • Interact and talk with your child – about what you are doing, seeing, feeling, and thinking.
  • Play word games (naming things, rhyming, making up silly words).
  • Pretend with your child. Use dress up, role play, and puppets.

Help with Reading:

  • Read daily or look at a book with your child.
  • Show your child that words are everywhere. Point out signs, cereal boxes, and magazines.
  • Visit the library for books, tapes, and CDs.
  • Help your child have fun learning language!