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Speech and Communication

Helping your child build their vocabulary

The number of words your toddler knows can predict how well they’ll learn to read when they go to school. Give them a flying start with these tips by I CAN.

Show and tell

Learning words and objects together is really helpful for early language development, so let your child see the object you’re talking about, as well as hearing its name. This helps them make the connection, and gives you the chance to explain what new words mean.

Give choices

Encourage your child to use new words by giving them choices. So, rather than saying “would you like a snack?” ask “do you want raisins or cucumber?”

Repetition is important

Children need to hear a new word lots of times before they learn it properly, so keep saying the word you want them to learn!

Create links

Talk together about how words are linked together and how they link to words they already know. They might be words with similar meanings (tall, high, long), or describe things that belong to a group (cat, dog, hamster). Talking about these connections helps children learn words well.

There are different types of words that children need to learn. They need a good vocabulary of doing words (like walking, swimming, driving), describing words (like big, heavy, red), and words that can be used to name things. Encourage your little one to use one or two of each type when you’re chatting together.

Want more advice or support?

You can talk via online chat to our family support workers and get advice specific to your situation and your family.

Visit www.actionforchildren.org.uk/talk

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