How I helped my 3-year-old build a strong vocabulary

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Most of the time when I would speak to my babies, I would look them directly in the eye, stress on a word and also add a gesture to it.

Coming from a diverse cultural background, both me and my husband have always believed in the importance of teaching children a number of languages, depending on what the kids are comfortable with.

I am biologically a Bengali, who has been born and raised in Delhi, and have now been a Mumbaikar for more than a decade. My husband is biologically from another north Indian state, born and raised in Delhi, and now a Mumbaikar for more than a decade as well.

I have friends who come from a similar culture pot, but who decided to speak only one language in the house, and as a result, the child never got to learn the mother tongue, or maybe the father’s native tongue, or even the local language.

I am not judging here, but as a parent, I do feel that kids pick up most languages really fast, and this is always a great way to help them build on their vocabulary as well as master multiple languages fast. Just my thought.

When we had our first child, both of us wanted to make sure that we do not restrict our conversation to any one particular language. My hubby knows two languages, and I knew three, and add to that some understanding of the local language, which is Marathi (I am still trying to learn to speak it though).

I am a voracious reader, and I am always fascinated by new words. As a mom, I really wanted to make sure my kids have a strong vocabulary too. And no, it isn’t difficult at all.

1. Start with one language: The first language we both started speaking to our baby was English. It wasn’t a thought-out thing, but just kind of happened. We were always talking to her, repeating a lot of the words over and over again.

2. Talking about everyday things: One thing I did a lot was to talk to my newborns about my entire day, and even give them a running commentary on what I was doing right then. I know it sounds useless, but it helped them pick up regular words that are used in an everyday context.

3. Using gestures with words: Most of the time when I would speak to my babies, I would look them directly in the eye, stress on a word and also add a gesture to it. It helped them understand the signs initially, and by the time they were able to form the words, it was quite an easy progression.

4. Not speaking in baby tones: Instead of talking to my babies like a baby, I always spoke to them in a very clear tone, saying the word the way it is meant to be pronounced. I also tried to speak to them in full sentences, instead of broken phrases. By the time they were 2, both my daughters were speaking fluent sentences, even the long and otherwise difficult ones.

They are growing up fast, almost 4 and 10 already, but our conversation and the love of improving our vocabulary remains the same. At the moment, my elder daughter and I tell each other of any new words we come across, and learn them together. It’s fun!

Read: Four habits I followed every day that helped my baby become a HEALTHY eater

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