You have heard your 2-year-old mutter her first cute words, but mastering an entire language may still seem like an impossible task. The more you speak to her, the more she will learn, so chat away during everything you do together — before long you won’t be able to get a word in edgewise.
Work on Themes
We don’t always learn things the first time, and your toddler is no different. Imagine how many new words he hears in a day — it must be hard to concentrate on them all. Help him learn sets of words by having theme days where you concentrate on areas such as colors, emotions, objects, food and animals. On your color day, make a point of naming the colors you see in his toys and out and about. Say things like, “That’s a red car.” He may not learn the colors yet, but the words will become familiar to him as a way of describing something. Make a point of bringing out toy animals on your animal day and looking at animal pictures and books.
Ask your 2-year-old lots of questions. She will understand more language than she can speak at this age, so work on this with questions that she can answer such as “Who is that?” or “Where’s Daddy?” As her language develops, the questions can become more advanced like, “Do you want yogurt or a banana?” She will no doubt burst with pride if you give her the chance to show off her knowledge with questions such as “What is that?” when looking at a picture of a dog or cat.
Read and Sing
Your 2-year-old may be too busy to sit down and listen to stories, but that doesn’t mean he can’t learn from books. Speech-language pathologist Sara Karpman says you don’t have to read any of the words on the page for your toddler to have a valuable “reading” activity. Let him flip through the pages at whatever speed he likes, talking about the pictures you see; for example, say, “He looks happy.” Nursery rhymes are a great way of introducing language, and the more you sing them the more familiar the words will become. Your wiggly tot doesn’t even need to sit still for this; sing while you play or go about daily life.
You don’t need to be a great singer either — he won’t mind!Play
A great deal of your 2-year-old’s life will be made up of play, and this is where she will do a lot of her learning. Provide a running commentary as she plays, to introduce new words and sentence skills. Say things like, “You put the baby in the stroller” or “Oh dear, the tower fell down.” Talk about the objects you are playing with by telling her things like, “I like this puzzle.” It won’t be long before you hear her trying to imitate you.