Help your child develop his vocabulary
Vocabulary is simply the words of the language. When we talk about the vocabulary of a particular child, we generally talk about the words he understands (called receptive vocabulary) and produces them (called expressive vocabulary).
Your child’s vocabulary supports his or her ability to communicate his thoughts, feelings, views, and desires to others (adults and peers) as well as facilitate their understanding of other people’s perspectives and feelings. This ability to communicate enables them to build coordinated peer relationships and allows you, as parents, to better understand them and enhance your communication with them. Vocabulary is also important for ultimate literacy.
So how do you help your child develop his vocabulary?
Actively involving children in the communication process helps them to develop vocabulary. Simply; We talk a lot and listen a lot.
To help your child develop his vocabulary, you need:
- Talk to your child often on many different topics, especially about how your child feels about different things and what they think.
- Ask your child questions about his experiences (what was wonderful and what was difficult in your day?) And ask him about his opinion on various topics
- Read together (and your child can also spend time reading independently if able). Provide them with books on various topics to expand their vocabulary (such as animals, science, imagination, people, etc.)
- When watching a TV program, talk to your child about what you notice about the program and ask them what they think about it
- Make sure to give your child time in discussions to ask questions and clarify his knowledge on a topic
- Use different vocabulary on your own consciously when talking to your child
- Get a “new word of the day” every day and use the word as often as you can with your child that day
- When explaining the meaning of a new word to your child, give them an example of how to use the new word in relation to them / their life (which makes it relevant to their world so they can better understand the meaning)
- Draw an example of the word at work and use it to help your child understand the meaning
- When your child uses a descriptive word for something, praise him with a wonderful word and see if you can think of a few other words that can be used to describe it.
Here are some good activities to encourage your child to participate in language development:
- Play phones
- Create stories together
- Dolls and other dramatic gameplay
- Tape recorders with microphones, or talk over wireless communication devices
- Interactive books and other multi-sensory experiences
Here are some red flags for developing a vocabulary for 3-5 years of age:
- Your child doesn’t seem to understand much of what people say to him.
- Your child has difficulty following instructions (even when repeating multiple times)
- Your child cannot recount stories, even when they are read to them multiple times.
- Your child overused unmarked words like “something”, “this”, “things”.
- Your child’s words are full of “stuffing” like “mother”, “uh”, “you know.”
Your child seems to be using the wrong words in a sentence like “This dog (chicken) has laid an egg.”
If your child has difficulties understanding it, or if he is talking with some of the red flag features included, you may benefit from getting a glimpse of his language skills from a speech and language pathologist. At YoungMinds, we have several speech-language pathologists who have significant experience in these assessments and guidance for interventions when needed.