Expanding your toddler’s vocabulary
You were so happy when Baby spoke their first words, and you were even happier when they started to learn more. They isn’t prepping for their college exams yet, but knowing more words could help them out in school as early as kindergarten. More than that, though, the more Baby knows how to say, the more they 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 their belt, like mama or dada. By 18 months, their vocabulary will take off, usually to about 20 to 50 words. By age 2, they might be putting words together to make their first sentences, and they will know between 20 and 200 words. How can you give Baby a helping hand?
Talk to them
Obviously, you talk to Baby all the time, but for expanding their 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 they will probably still process any new words they hear, especially if you avoid baby talk. Talk about your day, tell them 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 them when they make mistakes, just repeat the correct pronunciation, and translate for others if they can’t understand what they are 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.