Expanding your toddler’s vocabulary
You were so happy when Baby spoke his first words, and you were even happier when he started to learn more. He isn’t prepping for his college exams yet, but knowing more words could help him out in school as early as kindergarten. More than that, though, the more Baby knows how to say, the more he will be able to say to you!
Your child’s vocabulary is going to expand rapidly in the coming months and years. According to the National Center for Infants, Toddlers, and Families, at about 12 months, Baby probably has one or two simple words under his belt, like mama or dada. By 18 months, his vocabulary will take off, usually to about 20 to 50 words. By age 2, he might be putting words together to make his first sentences, and he will know between 20 and 200 words. How can you give Baby a helping hand?
Talk to him
Obviously, you talk to Baby all the time, but for expanding his vocabulary, it can help to take some time every day to be really intentional about the words you’re using. Sometimes this just means talking at your child, but he will probably still process any new words he hears, especially if you avoid baby talk. Talk about your day, tell him stories, and describe what you’re doing while you’re doing it.
Ask open-ended questions
Verbalize your observations
Use many, several, varied words
Read a book!
Children’s vocabulary in preschool correlates with reading comprehension in upper elementary school, so reading and vocab will be closely tied throughout Baby’s life. Look for books that ask questions and have interactive elements so that Baby can find and name things in the book. Ask questions while you read, and name the pictures in the books.
This is a learning process for you and Baby, so remember to be supportive as you learn together. Don’t correct him when he makes mistakes, just repeat the correct pronunciation, and translate for others if they can’t understand what he is saying. If Baby says “guck” for “truck,” say, “Yes, you do have a truck; I love that it’s red!” You two will be chatting it up in no time.
- “Developing School Readiness Skills From 12-24 Months.” Zero to Three. Zero to Three, 2016. Web.
- Mary E. Dahlgren. “Oral language and Vocabulary Development. U.S. Department of Education. U.S. Department of Education, 2008. Web.
- Nell. K. Duke, Annie M. Moses. “10 Research-Tested Ways To Build Children’s Vocabulary.” Scholastic. Scholastic Inc, 2003. Web.
- Michelle Pauli. “What books should I read with my 18-month-old?” The Guardian. The Guardian, August 24 2015. Web.