Checklists for Language & Literacy Development in Preschoolers

At the preschool level, children utilize and demonstrate developing language and literacy skills in three major ways: orally, through written language and through early reading skills 2. Compile a milestone checklist in each of these areas to track and monitor your child's language and literacy development. Don't forget to create a checklist of games and activities that will continue to encourage and support your child's abilities to read, write and speak.

Oral Language

Track your child's progress in oral language development with a checklist that includes listening and speaking milestones 3. By the time your child reaches preschool, she should be able to listen attentively and with interest to stories and songs. She should be able to listen and respond to questions and directions. She should also be able to speak in sentences with 3 or more words, repeat familiar rhymes and songs, ask questions, tell stories, initiate and participate in conversations and also use an expanded vocabulary.


According to the National Association for the Education of Young Children, writing, reading and oral language have a reflexive impact on child development 1. The association asserts that preschoolers need writing to help them learn about reading, need reading to help them learn about writing and need continual exposure to and practice with oral language to help them learn about both writing and reading. By the time your child is in preschool, he should be able to scribble letters, shapes and symbols to convey meaning, write his own name, write from left to right, use invented spelling based on consonant sounds, write some environmental words and write with spaces between words.


Most children are only beginning to learn how to read in preschool, but preschoolers should still be able to demonstrate certain pre-reading and early literacy skills by the time they are 3 or 4. Pre-reading and early literacy milestones to include in a reading development checklist include an interest in looking at and choosing books, the ability to answer and ask basic questions about a story after listening to it, the ability to read her own name in print, the ability to identify letters and sound out simple words, and lastly, the ability to comprehend and make predictions about a story's sequence of events 23.


Children primarily learn through play, which includes creative activities and imaginative games. Gather a list of activity ideas that promote cognitive, language and literacy development in different ways -- telling a story, practicing writing your child's own name and sounding out letters and words from a book, for example. Include activities for yourself, which should include things like correcting your child's pronunciation and speaking to your child in rhymes. Compile them into a weekly or monthly checklist for scheduling activities, remembering which activities your child has engaged in and keeping track of which ones he has yet to tackle. Having a visual record at the end of the week or month of all the different ways you've provided opportunities for language and literacy development can help you identify strengths, recognize weaknesses and plan relevant activities that are conducive to your preschooler's particular learning needs in the weeks and months ahead 3.

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