Developing your child’s vocabulary
Top Tips for developing vocabulary
a) Start from your child’s interests and talk about what they are doing or looking at.
b) Keep your language simple. Name what your child is playing with (e.g. ‘ball’), talk about the action (‘throwing’), describe the object (‘bouncy’). Make sure you don’t just focus on the names of things (nouns). Use action words (verbs) and describing words (adjectives) too.
c) Help your child to sort objects into categories. This can be done easily while tidying or helping sort the washing, for example. Put all the trains and pieces of track in one box, the doll’s house furniture into the right rooms of the doll’s house, or your child’s clothes in the right drawers.
d) Play games like hide and seek where you can emphasise position words: ‘I’ll give you a clue, it’s behind the box’.
e) Create a ‘treasure box’. Find an old box and decorate it. Hide objects in it and ask your child to pick one out and see if they can tell you what it is. Can they describe it as well, or tell you what you do with it?
f) Provide your child with opportunities to use new words by giving choices. Instead of saying, ‘Do you want a banana?’ ask them, ‘Do you want a banana or a yoghurt?’. If they point, then model, ‘You want a yoghurt’ so that they hear the word. Reward any attempt to repeat the word after you, but don’t ask them to copy you.
g) Keep repeating the words you want your child to focus on. You will get bored before they do! Children need to hear a new word lots of times before they learn it properly, so keep saying the word you want them to learn. They may try to copy you and will often take a few attempts to get it right. This is to be encouraged, so you copy them back!
h) Consider the activities your child engages in throughout the day at home, e.g. eating, bath time, reading books, playing with toys inside the home and outside in the garden or at the park. Choose one of these activities each day and plan 5 words you want your child to learn. Include two naming words (nouns), one action word (verb) and two describing words (adjectives) in each set. The words you might choose to use when chatting to your child in the bath or shower could be: ‘splash’ (verb), ‘cup’ (noun), ‘bowl’ (noun), ‘blue’ (adjective), ‘wet’ (adjective). Your setting may have some words that they want you to use with your child, so make sure you speak with them about this too.
Check out these pages to find lots more information and great ideas.
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