This information has been written in partnership with ICAN, the children's communication charity.

Vocabulary development is not just influenced by how much a child hears but also the variety of different words that they hear. Studies have shown that

  • Children aged under two benefit from hearing lots of words.
  • Children aged between two and three benefit from hearing a variety of sophisticated words, for example “transparent” instead of “see through” or “weary” instead of “tired”.
  • Using more meaning specific verbs provides opportunities for children to increase their vocabulary; for example, rather than saying "cook", a more specific verb would be "bake" or "stir-fry".
  • Children with who use a wider range of verbs have more advanced grammatical skills at the age of two and a half.
  • Children aged between three and four years benefit from conversations about past and future events as well as explanations.
  • Singing with children and sharing a wide variety of stories positively impacts on children's vocabulary

There are lots of ways that you can support your child's developing vocabulary during everyday activities

  • Choose books with interesting pictures that provide lots of opportunities for introducing new words to your child
  • Model language correctly, for example if your child says “Moo” while holding up a cow; you could say “Yes, it says ‘moo’. It is a cow.”
  • Introduce new vocabulary during play. For example, when playing with the bricks instead of saying “we’re building” you could say “we’re constructing / modelling / designing.”
  • Add a word, for example if your child holds up a car and says "car", you could say "red car"
  • Choose different fruit and vegetables when shopping with your child.

Remember - always take advantage of a good word!

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