Are you desperate for that first word? Or wanting to help your toddler broaden their vocabulary? If so, take a read of our communication and language tips courtesy of Sam M in the Burrow at Acorns Day Nursery.
Every child is different and the rate of communication and language between children can be significant. If your child is a late bloomer, don’t panic! Speech delay is totally normal, here are some things you can do to help your toddler develop.


  • Focus on things they like. Children will take more interest in learning words of the things they enjoy.

    For example, in the Burrow, we set up specific tuff trays with objects/words/stories relevant to the things the children like.
    Dinosaurs are a favourite at the moment, the children have been learning single words such as “stomp” and “roar” whilst they play with dinosaurs and read dinosaur stories.
    Breaking down words into themed topics can help children understand the meaning and themes of different words.

  • The power of BOOKS!

    Books help develop their language significantly. Seeing different words linked to their picture meaning can help children put the words into context.
    For example, in our dinosaur tray, we added one of the children’s favourite books “Stomp, Chomp, BIG ROARS, Here Come the Dinosaurs!” which displays the dinosaurs roaring, splashing, stomping, chomping. All the words the staff encouraged the children to say whilst exploring the tray. When they understand the meaning of the word, they will be more inclined to use it.
    Books are powerful, they can also encourage children to use other themes of language such as colours, objects, numbers, when children show an interest in them.

  • Use single words in your communication.

    When children understand the meaning of the word, they will use the word! It’s easier for children to attach understanding to single words rather than full sentences. For example, instead of saying “stop running inside!” say “walk.”
    This simplifies what you’re trying to say and also uses positive language of what you want them to do rather than negative language of what you don’t want them to do.

  • Tell children what you’re doing.

    Children are sponges to new vocabulary and the more you tell them what you’re doing, the more words they will pick up. This gives them the chance to connect the words you’re saying with the actions you’re doing. If they understand the word and the meaning behind it, they will eventually start to use it.

  • Silence can be powerful.

    Find the right balance between talking to children about what you’re doing and giving them a chance to ask questions and tell you what they want and need. For example, instead of just giving them a drink at meal times, let them ask for it!
    Encourage speech with objects and give them the chance to indicate their wants/needs with single words or even sign language.

Other things to Remember:

The most important thing to remember is to have patience. All children are different and not everything will work for every child.
Here are some small extra things to remember:

  • Give them your full time and effort.
  • Refrain from baby talk.
  • Name items.
  • Expand on their responses.
  • Use open ended questions.
  • Limit screen time – read books!
  • Throw away the dummy.
  • Play games like peekaboo.

Want some more advice? We’ve put together some tips for encouraging your child to tidy up after themselves. Check it out here.
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