Preschoolers generally adore making up new words, creating funny sentences, repeating rhymes, and singing silly songs. And many will happily sit for long periods of time while listening to someone read. They especially enjoy poetry, alphabet books, simple riddles, and guessing books. Even when they don't understand every word, they delight in the sounds and rhythms.
Three-year-olds also tend to enjoy stories about everyday things, animals, and kids, as well as books that discuss issues like learning to share, making friends, going to school, and using the potty. These help them put into words-and think about-many of their fears, ideas, and feelings.
Don't be surprised if your child asks you to read a particular book over and over-and don't take it personally if she bursts into tears if you inadvertently skip or change a word. Her desire to hear the book exactly the same way every time is a good sign that she's building language and memory skills. Capitalize on this by encouraging your child to end some of the sentences or explain the pictures.
Reading aloud to your child-and then talking about what you have just read-is the single most effective way to help your preschooler sharpen language skills. Studies show that when preschool children are read to daily, they do better in school and develop above-average verbal abilities. In fact, it appears that the more interaction of any kind between parents and very young children, the better the children's later vocabulary and IQ scores will be.
What you shouldn't do, however, is expose your preschooler to flash cards or meticulously correct her pronunciation or grammar. These strategies may inhibit speech development by making the child feel self-conscious or bad when she makes a mistake. Here are more productive ways to help.