It usually goes, once a child starts talking, they never stop. Or at least that’s how its been with my kids.
Most parents long for those milestones, especially with their first child. It’s exciting, new and something fun to share with family and friends; almost a validation that you are doing something right as a first-time parent. Sound familiar? So how can you help your toddler build their vocabulary?
This post may contain affiliate links.
Talk to your child all the time.
Not only will talking to your child help them recognize sounds and words, but it could also strengthen your bond with them. It’s soothing for a baby to hear his mother’s voice, and the same goes for toddlers.
When you speak to your child like a valuable member of the family, they will learn similar language and pick up words at a higher rate. The best part: you don’t have to talk about anything profound, just talk!
It might seem a bit redundant to the passerby, but when out and about, point out objects or common items that are familiar to your child. For example: at the park you might say to your child, “There’s a flower, and it’s yellow. Do you think it smells nice?” Encourage them to repeat what you say, or to answer questions.
When you are at home and in teaching mode, limit distractions like the tv and any music. Even if your child isn’t answering questions or if the conversation seems to be a bit one-sided, don’t give up; they are still listening and learning. Talking to your child will help them to become a better listener and more aware of the world around them. My husband always tells our 6 year old, “you have 2 ears and 1 mouth, so you should be listening twice as much.” But shh, don’t tell him I quoted him, he’ll get a big head.
Read a lot
Reading to your child is practically magic. Not only will your toddler hear a lot of words and sounds, but they will see a lot of words as well. This will help with letter recognition. We can only hope that this will also help them to develop a lifelong love of reading.
Just the same as talking to your toddler, reading to your toddler will help strengthen their listening skills as well. And who doesn’t want a child who can listen? Think about it this way: you are your child’s first teacher, so use it to your advantage.
When you read to your child, you are opening their mind to new things and encouraging them to use their imagination. This sets them up for success later in life. The more you sit with your little one and read, the more they are working their concentration. This will be a very useful habit once your toddler goes on to Kindergarten.
Tip: Read to your child every night but let them pick the book. When you are reading, reiterate letter sounds. If they are picking the book, they will be more invested and might even sit for the entirety of it.
Related article: Top 8 Books for Bedtime
Introduce about 4-5 letters per week, not in alphabetical order.
The belief here is that the child will be able to begin putting together simple words with the first letters introduced. Think of those as the foundation, and all others you introduce will be added support.
By focusing on just a few letters per week, you are able to go at your child’s pace and can even repeat a week if necessary.
Some people prefer to start with the first letter of their child’s name, but that’s up to you. The main benefit to that is your child knowing the letters in their name. Here’s an example of what I prefer for the first set: c,m,a,t,s. Once they have a basic knowledge of these letters, you can move on to the next set. Be creative and have fun with it.
Teach the ABCs
Seems like a no-brainer, but I used to work in childcare and you’d be surprised at how many parents skip over this and simply hope it will fall into place.
There needs to be a basic knowledge of the alphabet. Get older siblings involved and learn through play. This also goes back to speaking to your children. The more they hear, the more they will learn. But you don’t want to strive for just memorization. Repetition is key.
Imagine my concern when I decided to leave my job to stay home with Lucy, 1 at the time. Sawyer (6) had been in daycare/preschool from the time he was 12 weeks old until he turned 5, so to me, he was practically a genius. He knew his alphabet by the time he was 18 months and was reading before he went to Kindergarten. Lucy is nearly 3 and we are still working on the alphabet and letter recognition. Confession: I’ve just recently become more consistent about this, so I accept full responsibility.
What I have found is a fantastic resource that reiterates learning through play and includes many fun activities to grab your toddlers attention and keep them engaged while learning their letters! I highly recommend you check out Prep Through Play from Paper Heart Family.
There is something different in store for them every day, there are printable flashcards and bonus activities too. Prep Through Play is a simple, low-prep guide for learning through play and focusing on toddler letter recognition. You are provided a supply list and tips to make the guide as seamless as possible.
Talk to your toddler all day every day. Encourage them to speak back to you and repeat sentences and words. Read books every night and let your toddler pick the books. If they want to flip the pages themselves, allow them to do it; any way to get them involved in the process. Learn the ABCs. There are so many tools and activities you can use to help teach your child their letters.
Learning through play not only makes learning fun, but it encourages them to use their imagination. Repetition is key. Do not put a time limit on your toddler’s learning. Every child learns at their own rate.
How do you teach your toddler? What are some of your favorite activities?