700 Children's® – A Blog by Pediatric Experts

Give Them Words to Succeed

Aug 12, 2021
child smiling, holding a book

Did you know that the average kindergarten student has a vocabulary between 2100-2200 words? By the time they turn six years old, a child’s vocabulary will be around 2600 words. This is important because a child’s vocabulary is the foundation for communication, and it correlates with academic success.  

What kinds of words do children need to succeed? 

Children need content words. They require a strong vocabulary for labeling what they see. Think nouns:  dog, cat, bed, chair, car, truck, shoes, and bicycle.

Children need words that explain functions, or actions of what something does. Consider verbs: dogs bark, cats jump, and bicycles roll.

Children need vocabulary to understand relationships between people, animals, and objects. For example, dogs, cats, horses, and zebras are animals. These can be further classified into pets, farm animals, or zoo animals. 

Children need basic concepts vocabulary. Words related to size, color, shape, sequence, quantity, position, quality, and time allow a child to further talk about known concepts.

You can help your child build their vocabulary by doing the following:

  1. Label everything in your child’s world and talk about them.
  2. Talk about your actions throughout your day.
  3. Describe what you see and what or who you interact with.
  4. Introduce new words daily. Talk about words that mean the same (for example, fast/quick).
  5. Read to your child daily. Start reading to them as babies. Label pictures if your child won’t sit still for an entire book.
  6. Encourage your child to tell you stories, using pictures from their favorite books to guide their story telling.
  7. Participate in your local library’s children’s programs.
  8. Enroll your child in a language-rich preschool.
  9. Use the appropriate word for objects and actions; avoid baby talk.
  10. Watch videos and children’s educational shows together. Talk about what is happening. Point out new words introduced in the shows.

You can influence your child’s knowledge and usage of words in many ways. If your child is not talking or is having trouble using words to express themselves, speak with your pediatrician about a speech and language evaluation referral. Parents have the power to give their children words to succeed.

Speech Pathology at Nationwide Children's Hospital
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Jennifer Prinz
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Speech Language Pathology

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700 Children’s® features the most current pediatric health care information and research from our pediatric experts – physicians and specialists who have seen it all. Many of them are parents and bring a special understanding to what our patients and families experience. If you have a child – or care for a child – 700 Children’s was created especially for you.