Patient EducationJul | 18 | 2019
Fun Ways to Help Your Child Learn New Words
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Example words you can use
Talk more! When your child is around, talk to yourself about what you are doing, seeing, hearing and thinking. You can also talk to your child about what they are doing, seeing or hearing.
- “This dish is dirty. I’d better wash it."
- “It is cold outside. I am going to wear my jacket to keep warm.”
- “You are making the car go fast! Uh-oh, the car fell off the table.”
Pair words with actions during everyday routines. Label the items and say what you do with them. It is easier for children to learn new words when they hear and see words at the same time.
- “You are brushing your teeth with the toothbrush.”
- “You are cooking the bread in your play kitchen.”
Offer choices. This can help your child develop the skills to have a back-and-forth conversations. Even if you know what they want, wait for your child to ask. If your child is not old enough to ask for what they want, offer 2 choices.
- “Would you like an apple or an orange?”
- “What would you like to drink with your snack?”
Add words to what your child is already saying.
- Your child: “Shoe.”
- You: “Yes, that is your shoe.”
Be a good listener. Get face-to-face with your child as much as possible when they talk. Let your child see your eyes, mouth and facial expressions. Give your child time to talk. It is normal for children to pause or repeat words.
Read together or look at a book. With picture books, point at objects on the page and name them. Point out what is happening on the page. Show excitement for whatever is going on in the book.
- “There is a pig.”
- “See the pig? He is eating. He must be very hungry.”
Help your child use words that express their wants and needs. This is called functional language. Children can learn other words later, like objects or colors.
- “Would you like more carrots?”
- “Are you done playing with your toys?”
Reduce screen time. Lower the amount of time your child spends in front of a smartphone, tablet, computer or television. Children learn language best through interactions with others. Find other activities for your child to do that do not involve a screen.
Children age 2 and under do not need any screen time. children age 2 and older should get no more than 1 hour of good quality screen time every day. This means educational games, videos or television shows.
Get enough sleep. It might not sound obvious, but sleep helps your child learn language.
Children ages 1-2 years old need 11-14 hours of sleep, including naps. Children ages 2-5 years need 10-11 hours of sleep, including naps.
Ask questions. One way to help your child learn how to ask questions is to ask them a question. Then, wait a couple seconds before answering the question yourself. In doing this, you can set an example for how your child can ask questions.
- “Where are we going today?... We are going to the park!”
Did you know...?
Children learn most new words and sounds during their first 5 years of life! As parents and families, we can help find new ways for our children to learn every day.
Other speech and language development resources
Patient resources from Pediatric Speech, Swallowing and Language Disorders
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