Waiting for your child to speak their first word is exciting. We relish those sounds, and desire a clear explanation for, "Why in the world are you crying?" A solid vocabulary does not develop all at once, but instead it is built through daily interactions.
Help your child build vocabulary skills by implementing the following strategies into your life.
Story time with purpose
Reading stories to your baby is not just a great way to pass the time. Even if your child pays little attention to the actual storyline, reading to your child helps establish the rhythm of communication.
Picture books may be the first type of book that comes to mind, but do not rule out chapter books. Even if your child is far from ready to read a classic novel, sharing a chapter of a child's chapter book helps develop listening skills and introduces them to new words.
Another great way to utilize storytelling is to borrow CDs from the library or purchase collections of classics on CD. Listening to dramatic readings is a great way to build vocabulary, and listening skills. My son listened to the same dramatic stories night after night at bedtime the familiar cadence of the actors voices helped him fall asleep.
Drop baby talk and sloppy speaking habits
Your baby may be cuddly cute, but you will need to model strong vocabulary in order to help a child grasp language. Be sure to use proper enunciation more often than not. It is easy to slide into sloppy speaking habits, especially when you are a little loopy from being sleep deprived, but taking the time to speak with clarity helps a child develop a stronger vocabulary and clearer speech patterns. With that said, baby talk is not all bad. Although some say to never use a high pitched sing song voice when playing with your child, a little silliness is fun for both parent and child.
Describe in detail and feeling
Give your baby a tour of the world from time to time. Since everything is brand new to a baby, it is completely appropriate to show excitement when pointing out the colors in the quilt or the texture of the carpeting. Play it up. Have fun with adjectives. Actively engage your child's senses. This opens the door to a wide variety of new words and helps put labels on items your child sees every day.
Start asking questions
Rather than cringe when your toddler asks "Why?" Start the process by engaging your child with inquiries. Easy questions like "Where is your nose?" and "Who is that?" when Daddy walks in the room are a good starting point.
Move on to questions asked purely out of curiosity. Let the child ponder potential reasons even if they are unable to communicate their thoughts just yet. For example, when you see a squirrel run up a tree, wonder out loud what he might be doing. Answering yourself after a few moments lets a child take part in the wondering while giving them an idea of how conversations flow.
Providing your child a variety of language experiences will help build their vocabulary without having to resort to rote exercises.
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