Early on, we settled on a strategy easy for both my husband and me to remember. We named everything she touched.
It didn’t take long to try out this strategy that I realized how incredible it was. Every day we would walk downstairs, and she would touch this lamp while walking, and I would say “lamp.” Sure enough, not long after we started, she would feel that same lamp and say “lamp.” So we started doing it with everything.
If she crawled to the door and touched it, we would say “door.” If she picked up her spoon, we would say “spoon.” We then started to realize how her vocabulary really started to grow. It was even something her doctor and others would comment on, asking what advice I had.
Why this strategy made sense to us?
When teaching, I learned that it takes a school-aged child around 17 exposures to know a new word. However, I found that the younger they were, the more exposure resulted in better understanding. So, though I have no proper test concluded that it had to be more than 50 exposures for a young toddler to know a new word.
Here’s what you need to know about exposure, though.
You can’t just say the word 50 times and consider it done (that’d be nice, though). It has to be spread out over time. So when your child learns the word “ball,” it’s not time to move on. You have to continue repeating the word until they have made sense of it enough to lock in their memory.
The real takeaway here is that the more you say the word, the better it is for them to remember the word. Even if they aren’t saying it, they place that word into their memory which will assist them with saying it eventually.
Why naming everything is a solid strategy to stick by.
If you aren’t willing to keep a journal of every word your kid learned and tally how many times you told them that word like I did- gotcha, totally joking. Naming everything every time you remember to not only ensures they get a lot of exposure to the word, but it’s also a super simple way for you to remember to help them.
We probably missed a lot of the things she touched. But so often, we sat there staring at our little bundle of cuteness and realized she was touching something, so we’d say the word. Once you get the hang of it, it comes easily. Don’t think you need to follow your child around the house naming everything. It’s more of a simple do it when you remember concept to expose them to words as much as possible.
When trying this, it might seem silly or like it’s not working at first; not every word comes right away. However, every time you say that new word, it is one step closer to learning it. Even if they aren’t saying it aloud, it is processing in their brain, which is a considerable step. Ultimately your child will learn to talk at their own speed, but why not help them if you’re able to?
Every child develops at their own speed. There are so many aspects that need to be considered when it comes to vocabulary and speech. However, babies and toddlers are internalizing everything we say. So regardless if they are saying the words back, they are still being processed in their mind. So don’t stress the speech; they will talk eventually. However, what you can do is open their world to an abundance of words so that they’ll be able to pull them from their memory when they are ready.