Encouraging Language Development with your Babies and Toddlers

You may have been told that the best way to promote language and vocabulary growth in your toddler is to ask them questions. But what happens if they can’t explain what they are doing. They need to grow their vocabulary to better answer your questions. Here are some examples. 

boy rolling a ball and crawlingYour toddler is playing with a ball. You ask them what they are doing? If they respond, “ball”. Then you could reply, “You are playing with a blue ball.” or “You are rolling a red ball on the ground.” Responding with more specific vocabulary like the color, action and location words are great ways to allow your little to make connections with their actions and build their vocabulary. 

While your kiddo is playing with a farm set, you might want to ask them what animal they are playing with or what they are doing with the cow, etc. But a better option could be to tell your child what actions they are completing to build their vocabulary. You could say, “ I see that you one year old playing with a dollare using the farmer to feed the cow some corn. The cow must be hungry. I think the brown horse might be hungry too.” 

I am not saying asking questions is a bad thing and should never be done but you need to ask questions that engage the child and encourage more conversation. Simple one word answers are not going to build the child’s vocabulary. 

Here’s another example, your child is playing with a boat. 

You may ask, “What are you playing with?”.

They may respond, “a boat”.

Adult: “What color is the boat?”
Child: “Blue.” 

Adult: “Who is going to ride in the boat?”

Child: “A man.”

baby doing tummy time looking at a bookAs you can see, there is little to no vocabulary or language growth happening in this conversation. Try this instead…

Adult: “What are you playing with?”

Child: “A boat.”

Adult: “Oh, you like the blue boat the best. Who is going to ride in the boat?”

Child: “A man.”

Adult: “Where is the man going to ride the boat?”

Child: “In the bubbles.”

Adult: “The man is going to ride the boat in the bubbles? The man better watch out because the bubbles are bumpy!”

Child: “Help, the man is falling out of the boat!”

Adult: “Who will save the man?”

Child: “The red boat will save the man.”

Adult: “The red boat is a hero! Hooray!”

This conversation introduces more vocabulary to your child and engages them in their activity. It requires them to answer in more than one word answers and allows them to use their imaginations to build their story line. Your input of vocabulary and descriptive words is allowing them to make new connections and language growth. 

Another great way to build vocabulary is to read books. 

Another option is singing songs. 


Which one is your favorite?

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

hey friends!

My name is Nicole and I am so glad you are here! I have always loved photography and have taken classes. Then I started my teacher journey and fell in love with creating resources for what I needed in the classroom. Now I have combined both of my passions to bring you spectacular resources!