One of the most powerful ways to develop your child's literacy skills is also the easiest: talk to your kids! At age three, most kids name colors and put objects in basic groups (like food or animals). They can also begin to use words to express their emotions and ideas, instead of just naming what they see. Your three-year-old can understand more words than he or she can express. When you talk with them, you can help them learn new words and find language to express their sometimes overwhelming emotions as they make sense of the world.

Help your child develop speaking and listening skills:

Ask Questions
Questions are great conversation starters and can help kids explore their thinking. At this age, you can help them understand questions by offering them simple choices. For example: "Do you want to wear your red or blue pajamas tonight?" "Do you want to swing or slide first?"

Teach Words for Shapes and Sizes
Hearing spatial language helps toddlers and preschoolers develop their spatial reasoning skills. Spatial language includes references to shapes (triangle, square), sizes (tall, wide), features of shapes (corner, edge) and orientation (above, below, near, between). Help your child by using these words to describe daily activities. For example: "I see some round grapes that fell under the table. Let's put them in this bowl."

Introduce New Words at the Grocery Store
Talk out loud to your child as you select items and put them in the cart. Name foods as you pass them in the aisle and use new words to describe the food. "These bananas are so yellow and ripe. We can have these for lunch. Let's put those ripe bananas down gently so they don't get bruised."

Walk Around the Block
Take your toddler for a walk in your neighborhood and enjoy the sights and sounds together. As you pass, name people and places for your child. "Look, there's our mail carrier!" Then add more details. "I wonder if she will bring us a letter." Ask your child to make simple predictions. "Do you think we will see that big dog today?"