Two ways to teach new vocabulary simply by talking

Last week, we explored sabotaging your child......no really, we did.  But not in a bad way....in a sweet and kind way to get them to talk.  Check out the post here.  This week, we teach you two ways to teach your toddler new vocabulary simply by talking to them.

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1.  Commenting:  You see your child rolling a ball and you say "roll" then expand that to "roll ball" or "You're rolling the ball."  Commenting on what action your child is doing teaches them to pair a word with an action.  More examples:

  • Use the words "eat, eating, food, drinking, drink, eat crackers, drink milk" during meal times to teach your child to pair these actions words to meal times.
  • Use the words "blow, blow bubbles" while blowing bubbles.
  • Use the word "bounce" while your child bounces a ball.
  • Use the words "drive or roll" when rolling a car on the floor.
  • Use the words "feed, drink and give" when your child is feeding a bottle to a baby doll.
  • Use the words "stack, build and put on" when your child is building a block tower.

It is important to remember that children need to hear new words and vocabulary many times to learn them.  It is not unusual to hear us (Speech-Language Pathologists) using auditory bombardment to get children to learn new words.  When building blocks, we may grab a single block at a time and say "put on," next block, "put on," next block "put on" and so on so the child hears those action words over and over again.  

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2.  Narrating:  This is similar to commenting but parents should use longer phrases.  Parents should start narrating their children's actions and play from infancy and on.  Narrating what you and/or your child is doing, seeing and/or playing with with teaches children new vocabulary.  Some examples include:

  • Infants:  "I see you.  I see you chewing on your fingers.  You have one finger in your mouth, now you have two fingers in your mouth!"
  • Older babies who can follow you with their eyes to see what you are doing:  "Mommy is folding the laundry.  First she folds this towel then she puts it in the laundry basket."
  • Young toddlers (while taking a walk):  "We're going on a walk.  Let's walk on the sidewalk.  I see a blue car.  Look at the fence-there is a squirrel sitting on the fence!"
  • Older toddlers (while playing ball):  "I see you have your green, sparkly ball.  Throw the ball soft.  Throw the ball hard."
  • Preschoolers (while reading an age appropriate book with a caregiver):  What's she doing?  Is she making a fort in the living room?  Look-she's using blankets, chairs and the couch to make a fort."
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Disclaimer:  You're going to feel silly.  Teaching children to speak and to develop new vocabulary takes A LOT of talking and input from parents.  We're not inferring that you talk to your child incessantly.  State 1-2 words, phrases or sentences then take a break and let your child process the information, speak back to you or ask you a question.  Waiting is imperative when teaching children the intricacies of how we communicate.   

So there you have it...keep commenting and narrating.  It will pay off!

As always-please contact us with any questions toddlertalkingtt@gmail.com.  Check us out on Facebook @ToddlersTalking and on Instagram:  @toddlers.talking.  If you feel your child needs the help of a professional Speech-Language Pathologist, please contact an SLP in your area.