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Early Language Development in Children Ages 3-5

author image Pam Murphy
Pam Murphy is a writer specializing in fitness, childcare and business-related topics. She is a member of the National Association for Family Child Care and contributes to various websites. Murphy is a licensed childcare professional and holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of West Georgia.
Early Language Development in Children Ages 3-5
Preschoolers gain language skills by listening to other language users.

Children ages 3 to 5 pick up language skills from peers, caregivers, books, labels, routine activities and songs. At this age, children experiment with language and use words in creative ways. Children in this age group are considered preschoolers, and several language milestones achieved during this time support upcoming connections between writing and language.

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Language development is the process by which children learn to express themselves and to interact with others. Children are learning the purpose and rules of language even from birth, when caregivers respond to cries, and during the toddler and preschool years, when language is communicated through words, signs, books and gestures. Language milestones or timetables serve as a guide to normal language development and indicate "a general age and time" when most children will master certain skills, according to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders.


Language skills enable preschoolers to communicate with peers and caregivers and to converse and interact effectively with others. When young children interact with other language users, they "learn how to use language to convey messages, to express feelings, and to achieve intentions which enable them to function in a society," according to literacy specialist Mei-Yu Lu in "Language Development in the Early Years." Language skills help children resolve conflict, name and understand their own emotions and foster complex reasoning skills.

Age 3 to 4 Milestones

At 3 to 4 years of age, a child makes verbal requests, discusses real events, pretends to write, makes up stories and enjoys looking at and listening to age-appropriate fiction and nonfiction books, according to Kids Source Online. Children this age are also able to answer simple questions, identify colors, describe the use of common objects such as cars or spoons, repeat sentences and use verbs that end in "ing," according to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders.

Age 4 to 5 Milestones

A preschooler aged 4 to 5 can recognize some letters if taught; might be able to print his first name; recognizes familiar words; enjoys singing, rhymes and silly words; speaks in more complex sentences; and can name six to eight colors and a few shapes, according to Iowa State's University Extension. Children this age also enjoy telling jokes, follow directions with more than one step, carry on complex conversations and can learn their address, full name and telephone number if encouraged, adds the University Extension.


Engage children using language activities to promote language development. Encourage your 3- to 4 -year-old by including her in everyday conversation, explaining routines, asking questions and listening, advises Iowa State's University Extension. Read to your preschooler and give her books to enjoy on her own. You can nurture your 4- to 5-year-old's language development with regular visits to the library, counting and color games, creative storytelling and joke telling, adds the University Extension.

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