Your Child's Brain in Week 82
Year Two is so exciting for your little linguist: Just in the past few months, your toddler has begun to point out the things he wants words for, categorize the new words he learns, comprehend what he can't yet say, and acquire words by the process of elimination. So, right now, the more language your child is exposed to—no matter how seemingly strange or obscure the words are—the richer his vocabulary becomes.
So let's say you're going camping. No doubt, your child is highly curious about all your gear. At first you're reluctant to use all the exact names of the items, thinking that she won't understand or remember them. But research indicates that it's just best to use the correct terms—lantern, sleeping bag, tent, kerosene stove, backpack—and explain their purposes. Not only will doing so teach your child the names of the various items, but this mini-lesson will also prime her to learn more words related to other activities in her weeks and years to come.
What the Research Shows
Researchers brought 16- to 18-month-olds into the laboratory weekly for several weeks. To half of the group, they taught somewhat obscure words that the children likely would not have been exposed to in daily conversations, words like "crab," "trumpet," and "toucan." When introducing the terms, the researchers didn't simply say, "This is a trumpet"—instead, they described each term more fully: "This is a trumpet. It's a musical instrument. Listen to how it sounds."
The second half of the group was also given descriptive introductions to several words. Instead of unusual objects, however, this group was taught familiar ones, such as "dog," "baby," and "car."
After several weeks, all of the children were trained and then tested on a new set of unfamiliar, obscure words. The first set of children who had previously been exposed to a set of unusual objects learned 71 percent of the new objects presented in the follow-up training sessions. And the second set of children who had previously been only been exposed to familiar objects? They learned only 38 percent of the new slew of unusual items. Being exposed to unfamiliar terms over time had significantly improved the toddlers' abilities to grasp future new words.
Week 82 Brain Booster
Don't hold back when it comes to using a rich array of vocabulary words with your children. Whether cooking, gardening, using your iPhone, or building a new bookcase, use all appropriate words and demonstrate the various functions of their uses. It will immensely benefit your child's language learning ability when you do.
Week 82 Brain Booster
Related skills and topics include …
- Your Brilliant Baby in Week 51: Emerging First Words
- Your Clever Toddler in Week 58: Pointing as a Teaching (and Bonding) Tool
- Week 63: How New Words Help Your Child Learn to Categorize
- Week 64: Comprehension Before Expression
- Week 74: Learning Words By Process of Elimination
- The BabyZone Guide to Language & Communication
Curious about how else your toddler might be developing right now? Learn more about her clever brain and her growing body here: