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Vocabulary Development in Young Children

Below you will find an article on Vocabulary Development in Young Children. This is a copy of an article from a newspaper in Australia that was

found using the Lexis Nexus database. Please read this article, and think about ways that you would increase the vocabulary of a toddler. Why

is size of vocabulary important?
The Age (Melbourne, Australia)

Love for literature;


BYLINE: Leith Young


Reading is a critical part of literacy development and it’s never too early to start, writes Leith Young.

Babies begin to recognize the sight of books and the sounds of your reading. They start learning language from the day they’re born.

Strong evidence shows that the more young children are talked to, the more words they will acquire, and the greater their language skills by

the time they start school.

Young children who hear lots of words and are encouraged to communicate develop a richer vocabulary. One study highlighted the difference

between the way families talk, with the most talkative parents speaking 2000 words an hour to their children, compared with others who used 600

words an hour. Results clearly showed that children’s vocabularies grew faster, and they scored higher in IQ tests, when their parents talked

to them often.

“Talk” happens in many ways – repeating and responding to baby babble, telling stories, chanting rhymes, singing, conversations and, of course,


Reading is a critical part of literacy development and it’s never too early to introduce. If you’ve ever simply turned pages of a picture book

for a baby, you’ve seen the little legs stiffen with excitement, eyes widen, tongue poke out and arms wave about. However, the Australian

Bureau of Statistics (ABS) cites recent research ito parents’ understanding of the importance of reading to very young children that found more

than a quarter of parents are not aware of the benefits.

Dr Beverley Bennett, a paediatrician with the Child Development Unit at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead, says literacy and language are

intimately bound. “There’s a strong relationship between literacy skills early on and better academic achievement at school, self-esteem and

job opportunities later on.” Ideally, this starts from birth, she says. “With new babies, it’s talking to them, singing songs, telling little

stories, having those quiet, close times together. Then bringing in actual books from four to six months.”

The Raising Children Network says the average child learns the meanings of about 1000 words a year from birth to the start of school. Complex

connections in the developing brain, used for thinking, learning and language, form during these years. Activities such as talking, singing and

reading enhance the development of this rich network of connections. Reading to toddlers also sets the foundations for independent reading

later on.

What about screens? We’ve all seen toddlers being “babysat” with computers, mobile phones and televisions, even at family dinners where others

are talking. “It’s the way we use these devices with them that’s important,” Dr Bennett says. “If we just use them to keep a child contained,

that’s a problem, they’re best used as a tool to explore learning and reading together, with limits on screen time.

“Computers can be great for learning and, it’s the shared experience that’s important. You can get many small animated and interactive

activities online that encourage reading and promote literacy – even well-known books like Dr. Seuss can be brought to life as animated and

interactive stories on the computer.”

Evidence also shows that making reading part of a child’s everyday experiences is excellent for developing literacy. A shopping trip, for

example, can be used to read signs and labels on food packets.

And reading can also help with behavioural difficulties, such as getting toddlers to sleep. “A lot of parents have enormous problems getting

children to bed,” Dr Bennett says.

LOAD-DATE: March 27, 2014

Copyright 2014 The Age Company Limited

Last Updated on February 12, 2018

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