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  • Writer's pictureMrs H

How to build your child's vocabulary

Vocabulary is critical for developing communication skills and language. A child with limited vocabulary will struggle to develop self esteem, struggle to have social interactions and will struggle to access their learning. Children who have good vocabulary have strong communication skills. This has many positives; the ability to make friendships, good connections with family and other adults, academic success, wellbeing and happiness.

Children all develop at different rates but here is a rough guide to how many words your child 'should' know. As you can see, children are never too young to start building vocabulary.

*12-18 months20 words

*2 years200-300 words

*3 years900-1,000 words

*4 years1,500-1,600 words

*5 years2,100-2,200 words

Helping to grow your child's vocabulary

  1. Engage in pretend play - children love to take on roles such as policemen, doctors, shop assistants and teachers. As an adult take on a role and join in with their play. Ask focussed, open ended questions, not closed questions as this prevents a one word answer. Allow the child to lead the play.

  2. Read out loud and talk about the stories - reading together creates strong child-parent bonds. It allows for exploring new words and it improves listening skills. Describe the pictures, ask what they think might happen next, ask who their favourite character is. Can they retell the story?

  3. Sing songs - singing strengthens lips and tongues which encourages clear speaking. Songs expand their vocabulary and improve memory. It also introduces children to rhyme.

  4. Have a conversation - speaking and listening skills are important for improving vocabulary. Always use eye contact, take turns speaking and listening, and ask questions. Encourage conversation by talking about objects or events the child is interested in. Or encourage conversation when out and about, expand their understanding of the world.

  5. Learn nursery rhymes - these provide a bite-sized learning opportunity for children to develop language and communication skills. Choose simple rhymes to start and practise singing in the car or on the way to the park.

Remember children do all develop at different rates, so be patient. Encourage, support and try to expose your little ones to as many different experiences as you can. A walk in the park, a trip to the woods or seaside, going to the shops, a child's party; all provide opportunities for conversation and new vocabulary.

But most of all.....make it fun!

Mrs H

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