We take it for granted that babies grow into little people that eventually know how to talk. We don’t typically send them to language school and they don’t order “Rosetta Stone – Human Adult Language” courses online. Babies normally pick up language all on their own.
There have been different theories on how children learn to speak, and while we don’t have a complete handle on the entire language development process, we understand that children are naturally curious and driven. Language helps them make sense of the world around them.
Experts agree the human brain seems to be hardwired to learn language. Otherwise young children would never be able to effortlessly pick up the complexities of grammar, usage, and meanings. Have you ever tried to learn a second language as an adult? It’s not easy!
While children seem to be born with a deep desire to learn language, some theorists suspect that interaction with adults, particularly parents, is the key to helping children learn language and develop a robust vocabulary that will help them better communicate as they mature.
With this in mind, here are some activities you can enjoy with your child to not only have fun but build their vocabulary at the same time.
Kids love being told a story. Heck, adults love it too, which is why we spend countless hours streaming TV shows and movies from Netflix! Make sure to spend time each day reading to your child. Babies and toddlers love picture books, and preschoolers love illustrated books with strong characters and storylines.
Once a child reaches the age of five or six, they have a pretty good handle on basic language. Now it’s time for them to have fun with word games. Have fun with games like “I went on a picnic,” “I spy,” or rhyming games. These can be played on car rides, while doing the dishes together or taking a walk around the block.
Family Photo Albums
A wonderful way for kids to interact with you while learning about their heritage is to put together a family photo album. Have preschoolers help you arrange the photos in the album and tell stories of what is happening in the old photos that were taken before they were born.
Improve Your Own Vocabulary
The best way to help your child’s vocabulary is to expand your own and use a variety of words naturally. For example, instead of saying to your child, “Come on, let’s walk through the park,” you could say, “Let’s meander through the park.” Meander! What a magical word. You’ve just opened up a whole new world for your child with one word.
Instead of “Did you have fun at school today?” Try “Did you enjoyschool today?”
Instead of “Pick up your socks,” try “Retrieve your socks from the living room!”
And instead of “Are you feeling confused?” try “Are you befuddled?” That one will REALLY get them giggling and wanting to learn more.
At the end of the day, the best way to improve your child’s vocabulary is to engage with them, play, talk, and have a lot of fun!