You know it’s important to teach children words, but you’re not too sure why this is so important and how much of a difference it will make to their development.
Well, imagine you’re a visitor in a foreign city and surrounded by new sights, sounds and many activities. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have a tour guide at your side to help you to understand where you are, what you are looking at and where to go?
Similarly, young children are new to the world and they inevitably experience many new things every day. Without being told what these things are and how they should interact with them, they easily feel unsure of themselves. Therefore, from an educational perspective, a large part of parenting revolves around acting as a tour guide to our children. As we teach them the names of things, we help them to understand their world and participate in it so that they can navigate their way around.
What’s more, we don’t only use words for talking, we also use them for thinking and reasoning. In fact, in child development, language and intellect are very closely linked because knowing the words for things naturally helps children to understand these things. Therefore, the more words they learn, the easier it becomes for them to think analytically and creatively.
Here are five pointers to guide you as you support your child’s language development between three and five years of age:
- Most importantly, have frequent conversations with your child. Children literally need to hear a word hundreds of times in a meaningful context for them to decipher and remember its meaning. And then, after learning what a word means, they need to also practise using it in their everyday speech before it will eventually be incorporated into their active vocabulary.
- Remember that, for young children, the immediate moment is far more accessible than most of their memories. Therefore, they pay more attention and learn more when we talk to them about what they are doing now, than when we talk about an event that occurred in the past.
- Children learn more from conversations when they take more turns to say something. They naturally practise more when they speak more, but the main reason why this is so important is that they pay more attention when they are more invested in the conversation.
- The more songs and rhymes a pre-schooler knows, the easier it will be for that child to learn to read. Songs and rhymes don’t only build vocabulary and a love for language – their rhythmic, repetitive, and playful qualities also help children discover that words are made up of special speech sounds – and this prepares them for learning to decode written words.
- Children learn more when we add rich vocabulary to ordinary experiences. For example, using words such as “masterpiece”, “structure” and “foundation” when you and your child are playing with blocks together at home will encourage new language and new thoughts.
We’re here to support you as you build strong foundations for your child’s development.
There are many interesting, fun and engaging games that are perfect for developing a variety of skills in 3 to 5-year-olds. If your child is in this age group, we invite you to sign up – at no charge – to receive developmental milestone reminders and information from us monthly. These are aimed at supporting children’s development in all domains. To benefit from this tool, please sign up here.
We are also adding a downloadable educational activity as an extra bonus.
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