Year Two – Post 1 | Language Explosion
Your two-year-old has been busy figuring out all the 40 sounds in the American English language, putting them together to make words, and now figuring out how words are put together to make sentences. Whew, doesn’t sound like much, but if you figure he went from knowing one word at age one to 200 to 300 words, that’s a big jump!
He is combining these words in two to four word phrases and sentences with more advanced thinking skills. Most of the words that he used in the beginning were concrete; you could see, hear, touch, taste and smell them. Now he is learning words that are more abstract. These are prepositions (on, in, off) and feeling words (mad, sad, happy) to name a few. He has been working hard to make sense of the world around him. (See the second book in the My Baby Compass series to learn more about these language development milestones.)
We take for granted what is in our environment, but to your child everything is an adventure. Walking down the street or in the store, your child wants to see and touch everything. He isn’t paying attention to his watch, his cell phone, or how he is going to pay off a bill. He is in the moment – a lesson we can learn from our own child. He has his eyes, ears and brain wide open to what is around him and he wants to learn more. We view his actions as distracting, bothersome and irritating because we are in a “hurry.” Sit back for a moment and watch your child explore, eavesdrop on his conversations with his stuffed animals or the family pet. Listen and you will hear the words that you use and your actions that he has been watching. He wants to be just like you. This is the time to read, play and explore with your child.
There has been a study, “The 30 Million Word Gap by Age 3,” by Betsy Hart and Todd R. Risley, which backs up my beliefs about the importance of parenting in the communication process. Their research concluded that children living in “Professional Class” homes heard approximately 30 million more words than children in “Welfare Class” homes, and 10 million more than those in “Working Class” homes. The children in these families developed language at the same ratio. The research went a step further and compared the children’s success in the classroom environment with their communication skills. The way parents interacted with their children was also a factor. A more positive manner encouraged learning. There is a direct correlation with how successful a child is in his school environment and his language skills. Keep up the good work and your child will benefit for a lifetime.
– Kathryn Thorson Gruhn, MA CCC-SLP, author of My Baby Compass series