Isn’t it interesting that as young children enter kindergarten, some children have double the vocabulary of other children in their class? It isn’t that the children who know more words are smarter – It means that they learned a larger vocabulary of words, the definitions of the words, and how to use them properly in conversational sentences. It’s never too early for parents and caregivers to start teaching young children new words. When a child is learning to talk, that is the time to start incorporating new words and definitions. Not only does a child have a larger speaking vocabulary when he or she knows more words, but this also greatly improves his or her thinking skills and better prepares the child for learning how to read.
One of the simplest ways to increase your child’s vocabulary is by having conversations with your child. Turn off all electronics, whether it is the television, car radio, computer, iPad, etc. and instead use those moments to have conversations. Young children soak up new words like a sponge so encourage in-depth conversations and if you use a new word, ask your child something like, “Do you know what that word means?” More than likely he or she won’t know it and then you can explain what it means. You will be amazed at how quickly your child will develop his or her vocabulary!
Helpful Tips When Having Conversations with Your Child
When it permits, include your child in conversations with other adults
Allow your child time to respond when speaking to him or her, or when asking a question
Make intentional time to have conversations with your child on a daily basis – Not only will your child’s vocabulary increase, but so will the bond between you two
Expound and build upon on your child’s sentences. For example, “You’re happy? What are you feeling good about? What other things make you joyful?
Don’t forget how important reading is. From the time your child is very young, perhaps even before speaking-age, start reading to your child daily: During the day, at nap time, and/or at bedtime. Reading benefits your child’s brain development through viewing of the book’s illustrations, learning words by hearing you speak them, and also once they can speak, reading will help their vocabulary and understanding of words grow tremendously.
We also recommend having family meals together and being intentional about being present during that time. Set aside all electronics and talk to each other, hear about each other’s day, and not only will your child’s vocabulary grow, but so will the connection your child has with the entire family and vice versa.