Nora has always been advanced in the language department, and most of that is on her. I didn’t necessarily know what was “normal” for a two year old as far as talking goes. I started to realize she was talking much more than a typical child her age when other adults were always surprised how young she was after hearing her talk. Then seeing her interact with other kids around her age I really saw the difference.
I am not saying all this to brag, I truly believe every child is different and some do things quicker and easier than others. It took Nora forever to learn her colors even after my continuous and intense efforts! I worked with her like crazy and for the longest time everything was red! There are other areas Nora is average or even a little behind in, and that’s totally okay! But Nora has been an advanced talker since she started saying her first words.
While I do believe that most kiddos just do things at their own pace, I also know I fostered her language skills in some ways at home. I truly am no expert (other than my Early Childhood Education degree and four years teaching), but I wanted to share a few simple things I did with Nora at home that I believe played a small part in her vocabulary and language skills!
|Talk to Your Child|
Sounds simple enough but I truly believe this is one of the biggest (and easiest) ways I helped Nora’s speech and vocabulary. Starting from when she was little bitty and she began to watch and observe me I would talk to her about what I was doing. If she was in her jumper and I was folding laundry near her, I would tell her what I was doing, talk about the colors of the clothes, tell her what each item was. If she sat in her bouncy chair in the kitchen while I cooked dinner I explained my process. Showed her the foods and tools I was using. I did this when she was an infant and still do it now sometimes. Even in her littlest days she was picking up on things and some groundwork was being set for her future.
As a former teacher this one is especially close to my heart, but it is just as important (if not more) for parents. Reading to your child is one of the best ways to improve their vocabulary. One thing I always made sure to do was to read Nora a variety of books. When you talk with your little one throughout the day, you only use so many words. Reading a wide range of books ensures they are hearing some words they might not hear from you. Also, don’t just read books on your child’s level. I based the books I read to Nora more on how long she could sit and pay attention to one than on its reading level or intended age. Nora at 2.5 will sit and listen to a picture book on a fourth grade reading level. Does she understand everything going on? No. But she can sit through it and get the basic idea, look at the pictures, and hear the words which is enhancing her vocabulary. Don’t make your one year old only read board books, most of them can handle more!
|Cut the “Baby Talk”|
Now I am all for the over the top obnoxious mom voice for a little bitty baby. How else are we going to get those darling gummy grins out of ’em? However, in our house that stopped after age one. Kiddos can understand a lot more than you think. I also think it is important to not try and “dumb things down” for your little ones. Yes talk so they will understand and listen, but that doesn’t mean using baby words all the time. For example, instead of telling your 18 month old “No, no gentle touches,” when they are being rough on something, instead say, “No, you need to be gentle with that because it can break if you’re rough like that.” That may sound advanced and unnecessary for a toddler, but they will most likely get it and you just increased their knowledge of some words.
|Listen to Music|
This is a huge one! Most all kids respond to and enjoy music. At first it’s just the sounds, rhythm, and instruments they notice. But the more you play music around them then eventually they will start to pick up on the lyrics. Play kids songs often, because these are designed to suit children but any and all music can help their language! Nora has learned so many words from songs we repeatedly listen to in our house. When she sings a new word in part of a song, I make a point to tell her what it means.
These are all simple ways any parent can help their kiddo in the language department. I know that so many things can play a part in this. Birth order, environment, learning disabilities, and just plain ol’ life. However, none of the above mentioned things will hurt your child so what not try?
It is so fun to get to the poaint where this little human you’ve been living with can now use words to tell you how they feel, or what they want. Although be careful because once they start talking, if they’re anything like Nora, they won’t stop!