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Kindergarten | Oral Language Skills

How are my child’s speaking and conversation abilities?

Kindergartners are now in school with the “big kids” and no longer sound like toddlers from preschool. You’ll notice that they can give more elaborate answers, and when they can’t find the right word, they appreciate your help in giving it to them. They love to have conversations with friends and will protest with great description when they feel they’ve been wronged.

Kindergarten Oral Language & Speaking Goals

  • Speaks clearly and is understood by other people
  • Listens when other people speak
  • Takes turns when talking with others
  • Speaks clearly and enunciates letters and sounds correctly (letter sounds for  ‘s,’ ‘z’, ‘th,’ ‘sh,’ ‘ch,’ ‘j,’ ‘r,’ ‘l’ may develop more clearly when they are older)
  • Can speak in sentences
  • Uses the correct words to describe the world around them
  • Says “he”, “she”, “me”, “I”, and “they” correctly when talking about other people.
  • Can correctly use position words like “next to,” “on top of,” “under,” and “behind”.

How Can I Help My Kindergartner Improve Their Speaking Abilities?

Play Conversation Games:

Ask children to describe their thoughts, and try out new vocabulary by playing speaking games.  

Go back and forth thinking up a name and a food in ABC order.

You say: “My name is Ava and I like apples.”

They say: “My name is Brayden and I like buffalo wings.”

Expand on What Your Child Observes:

When your Kindergartner notices something, show them you’re listening by expanding on what they have observed. If your child points out an insect, ask if they can count the legs or find a different insect in the yard. If your child says it feels hot outside, show him how to read a thermometer or look up the temperature to talk about degrees Fahrenheit. These opportunities will help them build vocabulary while letting them know their ideas matter.

Instead of “How was school?”, try these questions to get your child talking:

  • Tell me something that made you giggle today.
  • If you could sit next to anyone in class, who would you sit next to? Why?
  • What did you play at recess?
  • What do you wish you could do all day long at school?
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Frequently Asked Questions About Kindergarten Language Development

At this age, using verbs incorrectly in the past tense is very normal. Some of the rules in English are challenging to master, so it might take them until the next school year to say things like “swam” instead of “swimmed” or “rode” instead of “rided”.

If you are concerned your child has a speech problem, set up an appointment with your pediatrician. Make a list of your concerns or examples of issues you’ve observed. Describe the issues you observe so the pediatrician can get a full picture of your child’s difficulties. They will help evaluate your child and recommend further screening and tests your child might benefit from.

Next, set up an appointment to meet with your child’s teacher and describe your concerns. Teachers are usually in charge of more than 20 children, so subtle language differences among children may not stand out clearly. By voicing your concerns, the teacher can tune in to your child and make note of speech issues noticed during class time, while offering more support to your child.

As a parent, it is your right to request a speech evaluation through your public school at any time.

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