Language Therapy for Preschool Children


 A comprehensive evaluation may assess the following areas: 

  • Expressive language (what the child says) 
    Receptive language (what the child understands) 
  • Play skills 

 In creating a treatment plan, speech-language pathologists (SLPs) work with parents, teachers and other professionals to target weaknesses found during a language assessment (formal & informal). Good language skills help with learning, behavior, self- esteem, and social skills. Language treatment can focus on a child’s comprehension and expression of: 

  • Form (grammar, syntax) 
  • Content (vocabulary, semantics) 
  • Use (social skills, pragmatics) 

 SLPs often use a scaffolding hierarchy to support the child as their understanding and expression of language targets strengthen.



Language is a socially shared system people use to communicate. It involves three interacting components including content, form, and use. 

Form refers to word structure and sentence structure that make an individual’s utterances “grammatically correct”. Content refers to the meaning of language and the ideas that are understood and expressed. Language use, also called “pragmatics”, refers to the social conventions of language. A language disorder may be the result of difficulties in one, two, or all three of these areas. 


Children who have a language disorder may have difficulty understanding and/or expressing language, including possible difficulty with: 

  • Understanding and using gestures 
  • Following directions 
  • Asking/answering questions 
  • Identifying objects and pictures 
  • Taking turns when talking with others 
  • Putting words together into sentences 
  • Learning songs and rhymes 
  • Using correct pronouns, like “she” or “they” 
  • Knowing how to start a conversation and keep it going 

Some children also have trouble with early reading and writing, such as: 

  • Holding a book right side up Following directions 
  • Looking at pictures in a book and turning pages 
  • Telling a story with a beginning, a middle, and an end 
    Naming letters and numbers 
  • Learning the alphabet 


There is no single known cause for language disorders. Children have a greater risk for developing a language disorder if they demonstrate any of the following: 

  • Family history of speech and language disorders 
    Premature birth, low birth-weight, and/or poor nutrition 
  • Hearing loss 
  • Autism 
  • Intellectual disabilities 
  • Syndromes and other related disorders including Down syndrome, Fragile X syndrome, fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, and cerebral palsy