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  • Toddler Learning Words? Focus On Teaching These Words First Than ABCs Or Counting

    It will help him learn words faster and make him happier.
    by Kitty Elicay .
Toddler Learning Words? Focus On Teaching These Words First Than ABCs Or Counting
  • One of “baby’s firsts” that parents look forward to is their little one saying his or her first word. With each new word that they learn, parents cannot help but be filled with pride and glee.

    By the time your toddler reaches age 2, their vocabulary shoots up, going from a handful of words to 200. You might be excited to teach them the alphabet or numbers and colors, but most experts agree that children should be able to learn functional communication first.

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    What is functional communication?

    Functional communication is the most basic of communication skills, according to Speech and Language Kids, a website founded by Carrie Clark, CCC-SLP, a speech therapist based in Missouri, USA. It helps a person get his basic wants and needs met, for example, “I want that,” or “I need to go to the bathroom.” These are not complicated thoughts and are often “the first types of messages that children begin to communicate.”


    What functional words should I teach toddlers first?

    Help, up, and more, are some of the functional words you can teach your child, says Brooke Dwyer and Bridget Hilsberg, speech therapy experts and founders of Speech Sisters.

    Say that your toddler has just finished his meal and wants to get out of his highchair. He might say, “all done,” or gesture with his hands up to signify his thoughts. If he’s playing with his toys and is unable to open a container, he might tell you, “help,” or point to the lid.

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    Both of these situations show the need to learn functional words first because it performs a purpose. We use it in our daily lives while we engage with the family, which makes them effective as a child’s first words.

    “Academic language is very important but not until your child has mastered some functional language first,” they share in an Instagram post.

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    To know which words you should focus on teaching your toddler, it’s best to pay attention to their everyday activities. Include their favorite people, food, toys, pets, and things to do, advises Laura Mize, a pediatric speech-language pathologist, in her website Teach Me to Talk.

    It can be action words like bite, blow, bring, clean, cook, cry, dance, done, draw, drink, eat, finish, get, give, go, help, hit, and hug. You can also add jump, kiss, look, play, pull and push, put, read, see, sing, sleep, smile, and stop.

    Think about it: say you’re teaching your toddler the words “circle” (a shape) and “look” (an action word). He might be able to remember the word “look” faster because it elicits a response from him. On the other hand, while your child will acknowledge a circle is like, he might have a harder time remembering it because he does not encounter the word often. Children understand concrete objects that are related to their basic wants and needs but items like shapes and colors will have little importance to them at first.

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    Help toddlers learn words faster

    Kids learn best by doing, so simply describe your daily routine and activities as they happen, and your toddlers will pick it up. Talk about family members — mommy, daddy, ate, and kuya, and what they are doing.

    You can also name the objects and the actions that you encounter at home. Words about your toddler, his body, his family, his food, and his home. For example: milk, yummy, spoon, bowl, bum, bath, and more.  It will become his primary vocabulary.

    Don’t forget to use gestures together with your words. These are tools of communication that can boost your child’s speech development. So, nod your head along when you tell her “yes,” and shake it when you say “no.” Wave when you greet “hello,” and hold out your hand when you ask for an object or when you’re asking for “help.”

    By using functional communication and language, your child will feel more empowered and independent. It will also build a strong foundation for nurturing his emotional intelligence, plus hone his ability to think and problem-solve. It will also make him happy because his basic wants and needs are met — making life easier for you, momma!


    Get more expert tips to boost your child's speech development here.

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