Building vocabulary is an on-going exercise:
- Conduct quizzes on days of the week, fruits, vegetables and other things of interest to your child.
- Talk to your child as much as possible and try to use new words that sound interesting. Children are easily impressionable and will start by repeating these new words, and will eventually move on to learning new ones on their own.
- Word building games are a fantastic way to develop linguistic skills. You can play it in one of two ways – using phonetics, i.e. the last sound of a word, or with the last letter of the word. It is also a great way to deal with boredom on journeys.
- Billboards with their huge and colourful words can entice your child to read.
- Without doubt, storybooks are the best way to help improve your child’s vocabulary and expression. Create a habit of reading bedtime stories together. Storybooks that are rich in graphics or pictures help teach a toddler new vocabulary. Start with books that contain pictures of different animals or colours. Point out trees, flowers, dogs or cats, repeating this every day, and before you know it, your toddler will be doing the same.
Teaching science is really about teaching your child to have an enquiring and curious mind. You can instruct her on how the world around her works, but how much more fun it will be for both of you if you leave her free to experiment and arrive at a conclusion by herself!
A toddler’s natural curiosity makes it easy to introduce science concepts during everyday activities. Kindling this spark of curiosity is a simple matter of providing an interesting problem to be solved. The thrill of solving experiments (the AHA! moment) can itself be an incredible motivating factor. Take a look at the following examples – they will show you how your child can learn scientific concepts from the world around her:
- Is it raining outside? Talk about how rain is formed and encourage her to learn new words —evaporation, condensation and precipitation.
- Playing with a ball? Discuss gravity in the simplest terms possible.
- Cooking with eggs? Discuss where eggs come from and what comes from eggs.
- Hear a loud sound? Talk about your ears, and how you hear.
- Have some ice? Show your little one how it melts when the temperature changes. Show her the many forms of water.
- Magnets on your refrigerator? Show your child how they repel and attract at different points.
- Float a paper boat on water and show her that light things float; add a stone and watch the heavy boat sink.
- When you are soaking clothes to wash in a bucket, show her how soap dissolves. Does sand added to water dissolve as well?
- When wiping the table, wet the sponge and explain how it absorbs water. Experiment with different materials to see what is absorbent and what is not.
You will gradually realise that as your children learn different scientific concepts, their vocabulary grows too. You can extend these home experiments further by taking them to science museums and to botanical gardens. Try to relate the things there to activities performed at home. “So the things we learnt at home are actually important in the real world! WOW!”