When I play with my children (or other people’s children) I find myself naturally working on increasing their vocabulary. I don’t do this through flashcards or books. I do it through play. And this is how….
- Always talk in the present. Children learn new words in the present tense first. Pair that with the fact that a young one’s interest is in what is happening in this very moment…and the present wins! Talking about the ice cream cone that melted….nope. Talking about the ice cream cone that is going to melt….not that either. The ice cream cone “melts.” That is how they learn, and that is what they care about!
- Don’t say “Say.” On top of talking in the present, I talk about – not at – my child. When we tell a child how to play or what to say, we are not working on vocabulary, we are working on following directions (which is great too!). To get your little ones to say new words, just model! “Ice cream!” “Eat.” “Yummy!” This will encourage your child to imitate these words. Telling them to “Say ice cream” or “Scoop the ice cream” will most likely annoy them, and send them packing towards toys they are allowed to play with on their own terms!
Helping your child learn new vocabulary doesn’t have to be dry or boring. Simply speaking to them in the present, modeling the language you’d like them to learn, and avoiding giving too many commands will give your child new vocabulary grounded in everyday life!
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