Did you know that your toddler’s verb vocabulary may determine how well and how quickly they learn to use sentences and phrases?

When teaching our children new words, it is common for parents to teach their children many nouns (names of objects or people), but we often focus less on verbs (action words). 

A new study was released last week in the peer-reviewed speech pathology journal ‘Language, Speech and Hearing Services in Schools’, showing that toddler’s verb vocabulary is predictive of their later sentence structure and grammar, and that a bigger verb vocabulary can lead to stronger and faster development of language. This is because verbs lend themselves to being combined with other words to make sentences or phrases (e.g. car GO, drink MILK, teddy SLEEP). 

THE TAKEAWAY: Keep teaching your child all of those naming words, but try to teach them more verbs more often. For example, if you are at the playground together, keep teaching your child all of the names of the things you see, but add lots of action words such as ‘jump, climb, run, dig, sit, slide, put, go, etc’. Pick a few key verbs to keep using with your child again and again and they’ll be well on the way to adding these to their vocab for later use. 

Source: Hadley PA, Rispoli M, Hsu N (2016). Toddler’s verb lexicon diversity and grammatical outcomes, Language, Speech and Hearing Services in Schools. 1;47(1):44-58.