Innumerable studies and research programs have shown that the amount of communication and interaction between a child and a caregiver directly impacts development of the child’s vocabulary. Infants are naturally programmed to learn the language that they hear most often, and begin to recognize words and phrases shortly thereafter.
During the first three years of a child’s life, cognitive and intellectual skills are at their highest. By the age of two years, a toddler can pronounce and understand the meaning of between 50-100 words. If this time period passes without significant development of children’s vocabulary, it will be more difficult for them to learn later in childhood.
Caregivers and Child Vocabulary
Singing, talking to the child and playing games are activities that parents naturally indulge in to help development of the child’s vocabulary, as well as other skills. It has been proven that reading to a child from as early as six months aids in the development of the child’s vocabulary.
Child care professionals may have limited time with children, but even this time, if constructively used, can significantly help in developing language skills. Child specialists, caregivers and parents use a mix of day-to-day conversation, reading, singing, vocabulary questions and learning games to encourage children to improve and widen their vocabularies.
Reading and Vocabulary Questions to Develop Children’s Vocabulary
Reading offers a chance for parent and child to bond, to spend quiet time together without distraction, and for the parent to introduce vocabulary questions and new concepts through the book. While reading, ensure that you ask vocabulary questions to draw answers from the child, and allow for the child to ask questions too. Simple vocabulary questions like “What is this big animal here?” are enough to draw attention to a new concept or idea. Choose books that have bright colors, favorite animals or cartoon characters, or big letters.
Everyday Conversation and Learning Games for Children’s Vocabulary
Talking to a child about everything around, all the new objects or concepts, people, as well as his or her own reactions to different sights creates an atmosphere in which the child feels free to express himself. A trip to the supermarket or a play session with friends can become a learning experience when guided properly and when new ideas are added to the child’s vocabulary. As a caregiver, when talking to a child, provide information but encourage more conversation from the child to keep his attention from wandering.
Learning games are a vital part of language skills and development of children’s vocabulary. Through a fun activity with vocabulary questions that is monitored by a caregiver, either parent or professional, a child will receive lessons in life skills, as well as language and vocabulary.
Beginning early with speech and vocabulary development has its advantages. A child who has a better command over the language is able to express himself more clearly, and will find it easier to access further learning through conversations, books and interaction with peers and friends.