Language Express Preschool Speech and Language Services System of Lanark, Leeds and Grenville.

Less More

Resources - Learning to Talk 2 (2 1/2 - 5 Years)

Four children holding their paintings

1. Don't Wait and See - Print Version

From the time they are born, children are learning about communication and are getting ready to read and write. The sooner we see children with delayed speech and language, the more we can help them to be successful in school and in life!

Father ironing laundry while his son is mimicing him with his own ironing board playset

2. Be A Good Model - Print Version

Give clear examples, but don’t tell your child what to say.

  • Repeat what she says correctly. If she says, "My boon falled down!" you could say, "Your spoon fell down. Oops! Let’s get a clean one." Don’t tell her to say it again. If you say, "Don’t say 'boon,' say 'spoon'," you are telling her that there is something wrong with the way she talks.
  • Talk to your child. Explain what you are doing. Name different things around you.
  • Listen to your child. Encourage your child to describe things and to make up stories.
Mother and daughter baking in the kitchen

3. Take Turns - Print Version

Join in and take turns with words and actions.

  • Play turn-taking games and help your child to learn to play by the rules. Play games like Simon Says, What Time is it Mr. Wolf?, Red Light Green Light, and board games or card games.
  • Take turns in daily routines (e.g. sweeping the floor, adding ingredients to a recipe).
  • Take turns going down the slide or pushing each other on the swing.
  • Take turns turning the pages and telling the story in a book.



Father and son tying a stack of newspapers together in the garage

4. Challenge Your Child - Print Version

Introduce new words and model longer and more complicated sentences. Add new ideas to your conversations.

  • When your child is getting dressed, if your child says, "I like green," you could say, "I like green too, but I prefer dark blue." When you do this, you are giving your child examples to learn from.
  • Don't just say "run;" say "skip," "tip-toe," "sprint." Don’t just say "big," say "huge," "gigantic," or "enormous."
  • When you read with your child, ask questions like, "What do you think will happen next?" "Why do you think she did that?" "I wonder…" "How do you think he felt when…?"

5. Use Your Imagination - Print Version

Mother and daughter making butterfly crafts together

Pretend play helps your child to think and to use language in new ways.

  • Join in the play and use comments like, "I wish… " "I wonder what would happen if…" "Imagine if…"
  • Encourage your child to use his imagination and to write down or draw his thoughts. Act out a story with puppets.
  • Play dress up. Pretend to be firefighters, princesses, animals…
  • Sing and dance together. Make up your own silly songs and dances.

6. Limit TV, Computer and All Electronic Devices - Print Version

A family of four reading a book while laying on the floor together

Pediatricians recommend no TV or computer for children under 2, and no more than 1-2 hours of supervised daily screen time for older children.

  • TV and electronic games can be entertaining, but children will not learn the skills they need from screens. Children’s brains are wired to learn from playing and talking with real people.
  • Turn off the TV and computer during meals, when visitors arrive, and whenever you are not actually using them. Don’t use the TV as background noise.

Mother and her two sons playing with letters of the alphabet

7. Encourage Reading, Writing and Math - Print Version

Children are more successful at school when they arrive with some basic skills.

  • Let your child see you reading, writing, and using numbers in their everyday world. Read labels, signs, menus and prices aloud. Talk about the words and numbers as you read them with your child.
  • Play letter and number games together.
  • Count out loud, compare and sort objects. When you are setting the table, count the dishes you will need. Sort the knives, forks and spoons.
  • Read to your child every day. Find letters and words. Let your child "read" to you. You don’t have to read the words on the page – tell a story from the pictures! Connect the story to your child’s life (e.g. "Remember when…" "We saw one of those at…").

8. Play and Participate - Print Version

A Teacher sitting down and colouring with her two students

Children need to learn to follow routines and to behave as part of a group before they start school. They also need to learn to play cooperatively with other children and to respect the feelings and opinions of others.

  • Arrange play dates with other children. Remind your child that, "We all like different things and that’s okay!"
  • Participate in playgroups, library story time programs, swimming lessons, gymnastics classes, nursery school, soccer or t-ball teams. Daycare is also a great option.
  • Play games together as a family.
  • Take your child lots of places (e.g. the grocery store, the library, community events, or the art gallery).