Building vocabulary is a crucial step in ensuring that your child’s speech skills continue to grow and develop. So, today, I will share with you 3 quick and easy tips on how to help build their vocabulary: engaging, reading, and singing.
Tip #1: Involve them in Your Daily Routines
Engaging your child in your daily activities (and talking as you go!) can really help them build their vocabulary. Make sure to talk your way through everything you do, using simple, repetitive language.
Here are a few examples of how you can involve your child in your daily routines and tasks:
Laundry: Give your child a towel to hold or pretend to fold. Say, “Fold it, fold it! We’re folding! Is it folded?”
Cleaning: Give your child a rag so they can pretend to clean. Say, “Wipe, wipe, wipe! Is it clean? Yes, it’s clean!”
Cooking: Put your child in the high chair with a couple of toys, pretend food, and some mixing bowls and spoons. Let them pretend cook while you’re really getting the job done. If it’s a safe enough activity, let them cook with you. Get them up on a step stool and let them pour some beans into a bowl. Remember to talk it through: “Pour! Pour! You’re pouring! You poured it!”
The most important thing to remember while trying to expand your child’s vocabulary is to engage them and continuously talk everything through. While using simple language (like wipe and pour and cook), you can also use different variations of the word. Pour, poured, and pouring, for example.
Another activity to talk through to help build your child’s vocabulary is diaper changing time. You’ve already got their full attention, so talk through what you’re doing. “Take your diaper off. One—two—off! Where are the wipes? Wipe, wipe, wipe!”
Tip #2: Routinely Read with Your Child
I know that many parents are incredibly busy and they’re both working, but reading should really be one of your daily activities with your child.
Set aside 5 minutes each day with your child. You can do this at night as they’re laying down to go to sleep, for example. Choose a simple book and read it to them. The benefits of this can be really huge. Not only will this help them expand their language capacity, but it can be a great bonding experience as well as establishing a routine to calm them down to go to sleep. If you read the same book every night, then eventually they’re going to learn that vocabulary, both receptively and expressively.
Tip #3: Sing! Sing! Sing!
I’m a huge believer in music and singing. I’ve seen it work for many children that I work and do therapy with. Usually, they’re very quiet and reserved. Then, when we start doing music—whoa! There we go! They start humming along, and they’re really trying it. Sometimes they slip a word in here and there, learning new words along the way. They’re learning the meanings of these words, too, because they’re truly engaged.
Try using visuals with the songs too, such as hand motions, other actions, a book, or even puppets.
So, those are my 3 quick and easy tips that you can easily implement into your everyday activities and interactions with your child. With consistent engagement in these 3 areas with your child, their vocabulary will slowly but surely build.
What if my child is still having trouble?
After reading this, you might be saying, “Kayla! I’ve been doing that! My kid wouldn’t be in speech therapy if that worked.”
Well, okay. If these methods are not helping your child’s vocabulary grow, then that tells me that your child is probably having trouble reaching that level. Maybe they’re understanding many words, but they’re having trouble imitating, and therefore not using words—any new words—frequently, if at all. If this is the case, watch my video about how to teach toddlers to talk, imitate, and socialize.
If you’ve been working with your child for a very long time and they’re still not imitating and you’re not in speech therapy, I encourage you to go to speech therapy.
If you’ve been in speech therapy for a long time and they’re still not imitating and you’re not really sure what’s going on, then try watching my video about the 11 foundational skills a child needs to have before talking. Maybe your child is missing some of those foundational skills that are prerequisites before imitation and before spontaneous verbal talking language skills.
If you’re looking for a step-by-step guide to help you learn how to help your toddler communicate, then check out my online course.