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Strengthening Language through Play: 2-3 years old by Dr. Amanda Gummer

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Children learn to talk at different ages, but by their second birthday most will have up to 300 words in their vocabulary! Your child will use these words and start linking them together to form basic sentences, while getting a real sense of the meanings behind the words by using them in the correct context.

Family mealtimes and joint play activities will help strengthen these skills. Children watch, learn and copy their parents’ communication styles, so the more you include your child in conversation – the more confident they will feel when communicating with others.

"Children watch, learn and copy their parents’ communication styles, so the more you include your child in conversation – the more confident they will feel when communicating with others."

There’s no better way to practice these learned words than through play. Try incorporating some of these easy, at home, language-based play ideas into your day!

  • Role play is not only great for imagination but also reinforces vocabulary! Have your child imitate your actions and set the table for their dolls and stuffed animals.
  • Playing with a lightweight bouncy ball will promote fitness and healthy activity levels; it also facilitates communication between you and your child! Tell your child when to roll or pass the ball to you, and have them mimic that command back when they are ready for the ball.
  • With their new color skills, have your child help with laundry and play a matching game. Have them pair socks together and count with them or ask them to name the color of each clothing item. This will also reinforce vocabulary.
  • Get outdoors! Your child’s curiosity is at an all time high at this age, so play into it and go on a bug hunt. Fill a jar with leaves and twigs and place whatever little crawlers you find in the jar and name the insects. Have your child repeat the names after you.

A child’s thought process is often far more advanced than their language skills at this age, so toddler tantrums may be frequent. However, don’t be discouraged! Be patient and continue to practice language through play!