Baby Language Development: Preschool Vocabulary
There is a wide range of what is considered normal in regard to vocabulary development in the early school years of baby language development. If your child's teacher is not particularly worried, then you should not be either. However, building a strong vocabulary is important as children move into higher grades and academic demands increase.
There are many activities that you can do with your child that will help build her vocabulary—the most important of which is to make sure that you are speaking to her and are explaining the world to her as much as possible. Children learn language through imitation. They use words to which they are exposed. When you speak and read to your child, she is exposed to a larger vocabulary than the one she already has. As you are going through your daily routines, talk about the different types of foods at the grocery store, the places you are passing and the news you hear on the radio. Explain how things are categorized and talk about synonyms, antonyms and homonyms. All of these things will help build her vocabulary.
You can also help your child by encouraging imitation of language. One way to do this is by repeating back what she says and extending the words that she currently using in her speech. If she says, "I ate cookies for snack," you can say, "Yes, you ate some warm, delicious chocolate chip cookies for snack today." You can ask her to repeat what you would have her say. For example, when a child does not say "please," many parents simply say, "What do you say?" This does not really teach children to learn how to ask properly the first time. Instead, say, "May I please have a cookie?" and have your child repeat the whole phrase before she gets the cookie. This strategy can (and should) be used frequently. Living with two preschoolers and a toddler, I often feel as though by the end of the day, I have had the conversations of four people—and I often have. Eventually, however, this is how they learn to speak for themselves.