I read once that you learn more in the first 5 years of life than you do at any other point. Children are soaking up information and learning new things at a rapid rate (how to crawl, walk, talk, etc.) They can absorb several languages at once during these years. One thing that you can easily do to help your child’s development and to increase your child’s vocabulary is to provide a rich language setting at home. People frequently comment on my 2.5-year-old daughter’s vocabulary and speech. She’s chatty and uses complete sentences and adult words. Here are a few things I’ve done to help her develop and increase her vocabulary.
Avoid baby talk
By baby talk I mean, avoid nonsense words like “Oh you widdy biddy baby” and other silly stuff like that. Yes, I talked like that to both of my babies sometimes when they were under 1 year (and cute as a button!). As my oldest grew and became more aware, I started speaking to her as I would to anyone else. Instead of saying “look at the cutey widdy bunny-wabbit” I would say “Look at that cute, white bunny!” I figured that she’s learning the English language for the first time and I want her to learn proper vocabulary so I better use it!
Use normal words
Instead of saying things like “ouchie”, I simply used the normal word (“wound”). I tried to talk to my daughter like I would to anyone else and used advanced vocabulary (and explained to her what the words meant). (Experts also recommend using appropriate terminology when talking about body parts to help children report sexual abuse situations.)
Talk a lot and use descriptive words
I talk to myself…a lot! When I first became a mom, I continued talking out loud but shifted my conversation by talking directly to my daughter. Even when she was just a few months old I would talk to her – having a running conversation with her about what we were doing (“We’re going into the store. I need to buy some groceries. Let me get this cart for you to sit in….”) Babies are soaking up information at such a rapid rate and curious about everything. I simply tried to feed her curiosity by explaining everything we saw and did. I made sure to include lots of rich, descriptive words too!
Read, read, read!
Last, but not least, read books! Lots of books – different genres, different styles, etc. Books contain many words that we don’t use on a regular basis in everyday, normal conversation. This is great for teaching your children and exposing them to new vocabulary (as well as styles of reading – poetry, verse, fairy-tales, etc.). The more you read, the more they’ll learn. If you need some entertaining books for your toddler, check out my post on our favorite toddler books.
Small children are like sponges, constantly soaking up new information every day. You can help their vocabulary by talking to them frequently, using rich, descriptive words, and reading to them every day. My daughter picked up on words very quickly and people have always complimented her on her vocabulary and speech. If you have any tips, I’d love to hear them!