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How Talking To Babies Can Help Build Their Vocabulary

The more parents talk to their children, the faster their vocabularies grow. We have long known this, but why do parents not place a greater emphasis on it? The benefits of a larger vocabulary can translate into a significant advantage when it comes to academic performance.

In recent years researchers have found a disparity in the size of the vocabularies of children that were spoken to often and children that were spoken to less often as infants and toddlers. Differences in vocabulary size are noticeable even at 18 months. It’s fair to say these findings cannot be ignored.

Build vocabulary from context

Humans build vocabulary from context, for a baby’s vocabulary to increase, the baby needs to hear you point out people, things and actions in their direct environment. Words spoken to other listeners in the baby’s presence or say words spoken on television do not have the same impact. Your baby really does listen to you!

This might all seem quite obvious, but it took until the mid-nineties for specific study and research to be carried out in this area and to definitively demonstrate just how important early interaction is and the difference it makes.

Nurseries or kindergartens

These findings therefore really impact formal academic attendance age. It suggests that sending children to “pre-school” (nurseries or kindergartens) at the age of four, the most favoured age can come too late to compensate for educational shortcomings at home. Interestingly it is in this gap, between two and four years old which seems to determine a child’s language capability and vocabulary for the rest of their lives. So the message seems clear – early action leads to long term success. And in the meantime – talk to your babies and toddlers!

If you would like information on the classes I Can Read offer to this age group and how we work on vocabulary building, please speak to any of our Reading Specialists today for more information.