A couple of days ago, a parent asked me why her child’s vocabulary seemed more immature than some younger children. I told the parent that children’s vocabularies develop at different rates, and there are certain expectations at each age level. I also told her that if she was concerned, an assessment could provide more information.
After talking to her more, I learned that the child had been evaluated and the parent was told that there was nothing wrong. However, the parent continued to ask me for suggestions to increase the child’s vocabulary. I would like to share with you the one suggestion that I gave her. It is very simple, and most parents believe that they do it already, however, we really don’t.
The very basic suggestion that I gave her is to use nouns. During most conversations, we tend to us a lot of pronouns, especially when talking to children. Instead of telling children the specific names of people, places and things, we use pronouns and adverbs. We call things it, we refer to people as him, her, she, he or them, or we describe places as there, and tell children to go an get that. One way a child’s vocabulary is increased, is by hearing and using different levels of vocabulary. When talking to children, Instead of calling something it, name it, and expect the child to use nouns to name it, as well.
Of course, there are many other ways to build a child’s vocabulary. However, this method is very easy, you can begin using it at birth and continue through adulthood, it’s free, and you do not have to set a specific time aside to practice. Most children love to talk, and they love for their parents to talk to them. During these conversations, try doing this, point to objects and say their names; be specific when telling a story or describing an event; when talking to others, say their names or professions; vary the types nouns that you use; and when taking a trip, explain where you are going. This is one way to begin to build your child’s vocabulary.