Caring for Our Children (CFOC)

Chapter 2: Program Activities for Healthy Development

2.1 Program of Developmental Activities

2.1.3 Program Activities for Three- to Five-Year-Olds Fostering Language Development of Three- to Five-Year-Olds

The indoor and outdoor learning/play environment should be rich in first-hand experiences that offer opportunities for language development. They should also have an abundance of books of fantasy, fiction, and nonfiction, and provide chances for the children to relate stories. Caregivers/teachers should foster language development by:

  1. Speaking with children rather than at them;
  2. Encouraging children to talk with each other by helping them to listen and respond;
  3. Giving children models of verbal expression;
  4. Reading books about the child’s culture and history, which would serve to help the child develop a sense of self;
  5. Reading to children and re-reading their favorite books;
  6. Listening respectfully when children speak;
  7. Encouraging interactive storytelling;
  8. Using open-ended questions;
  9. Provide opportunities during indoor and outdoor learning/play to use writing supplies and printed materials;
  10. Provide and read books relevant to their natural environment outdoors (for example, books about the current season, local wildlife, etc.);
  11. Provide settings that encourage children to observe nature, such as a butterfly garden, bird watching station, etc.;
  12. Providing opportunities to explore writing, such as through a writing area or individual journals.
Language reflects and shapes thinking. A curriculum created to match preschoolers’ needs and interests enhances language skills. First-hand experiences encourage children to talk with each other and with adults, to seek, develop, and use increasingly more complex vocabulary, and to use language to express thinking, feeling, and curiosity (1-3).
Compliance with development should be measured by structured observation. Examples of verbal encouragement of verbal expression are: “ask Johnny if you may play with him”; “tell him you don’t like being hit”; “tell Sara what you saw downtown yesterday;” “can you tell Mommy about what you and Johnny played this morning?” These encouraging statements should be followed by respectful listening, without pressuring the child to speak.
Center, Head Start, Large Family Child Care Home, Small Family Child Care Home
RELATED STANDARDS Support Services for Parents/Guardians
  1. Szanton, E. S., ed. 1997. Creating child-centered programs for infants and toddlers, birth to 3 year olds, step by step: A Program for children and families. New York: Children’s Resources International.
  2. Snow, C. E., M. S. Burns, P. Griffin. 1999. Language and literacy environments in preschools. ERIC Digest (January).
  3. Maschinot, B. 2008. The changing face of the United States: The influence of culture on early child development. Washington, DC: Zero to Three.