Teaching your child to talk is one of the foundations of parenting. Language is the basis of all learning and children under 5 have to be exposed to thousands and thousands of words before they start school.   The number of new words that a child is expected to learn at 3 and 4 years old can vary, but here are some general guidelines:

  • By the age of 3, most children have a vocabulary of around 1,000 words. Between the ages of 3 and 4, a child’s vocabulary typically increases to around 1,500-2,000 words.
  • This means that a child may learn between 500 to 1,000 new words during this year.
  • It’s important to note that these are just general estimates, and individual children may develop at different rates.

What makes a huge difference is the quality of a child’s language environment and their exposure to a rich variety of words.  This can have a significant impact on a young child’s vocabulary growth.

Add a Descriptive Word; Adjectives

One easy way to increase your child’s vocab is to add a word when you either describe something or repeat your child’s sentence back to them if they are a little older.

So for instance; your child sees a cat; and attempts to say ‘cat’.  You could say ‘yes, it’s a cat.  It’s a black and white spotty cat’.  If you are holding your child’s attention you can then go to town.  You could add all kinds of multi-sensory descriptive words such as furry, soft or use comparative words such as larger or smaller.

Adding an Action Word; Verbs

The other kinds of words that are easy to add easily when repeating back sentences to your child are verbs.  So in the example above you might say; ‘yes it’s a cat.  Look its sitting / running / jumping etc.’

In this way you can easily over the course of a day and a week add hundreds of new words into conversations with your child, exposing them to new and richer language.

For more information

For more information on some approximate ages and stages for speech and language please visit this website: Ages and stages (speechandlanguage.org.uk)