As children grow from infants to toddlers, they begin to develop language and communication skills. Kids' language development typically progresses at a rapid pace after their first 18 months. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, kids between ages 2 and 3 should recognize names of familiar people, objects and body parts, say several single words, use simple phrases and two- to four-word sentences, and repeat words overheard in conversation. To help toddlers reach these language milestones, parents should engage them in a variety of language development activities.
Break Out the Books
Parents can increase vocabulary and promote language development by reading books with their 2-year-old. Along with encouraging development of language skills, reading together every day is one of the best ways for parents to enjoy quiet togetherness with their child, says Dr. William Sears, well-known pediatrician and author. While parents may read through simple books with their 2-year-old, reading with a toddler can also involve describing the pictures in a book without following the written words. During read-alouds, parents should encourage their child to name and point to familiar objects in the book by asking questions.
Play Searching Games
Language development can and should be integrated into other daily activities. Parents can engage their child in simple language development activities in a variety of settings. A searching game involves asking toddlers to look for particular objects, things of a certain color or items in a certain category. For example, parents can engage their child in finding trucks or motorcycles on the road during car rides. At the grocery store, parents and toddlers can name all the red foods they see or all the vegetables in the produce section. Parents can add counting to searching games by asking their 2-year-old how many of a certain object or color they see in an area.
Make a Scrapbook
Making a scrapbook of favorite or familiar things with 2-year-olds also promotes language development. Parents can cut out pictures of various items and group them into categories. Together, parents and toddlers can make pages of different things, such as dessert foods, vehicles, animals and furniture. While making the scrapbook, parents should encourage their toddler to name the different objects and ask questions about the items included in the book. Parents can also create silly pictures by mixing and matching parts of different objects, and talk with their child about what's wrong with the picture and different ways to fix it.
Use the Internet
While face-to-face interactions are the best ways to facilitate language development, parents can expand language development opportunities by utilizing online resources. Parents should make sure to talk and interact with their 2-year-old as they explore language development websites together. A number of children's toy manufacturers and other educational companies provide online learning games that allow children to explore and categorize different animals, colors, shapes and body parts. Toddlers can also listen to nursery rhymes and play games that foster language development and literacy.
- Healthy Children: 2 Year Old Developmental Milestones
- Scholastic Parents: Language and Literacy Development in 0-2 Year Olds
- American Speech-Language-Hearing Association: Activities to Encourage Speech and Language Development
- Ask Dr. Sears: 2 Years & Up-Creative Play
- SJA Therapy Services: Facilitating Speech and Language Development in Your 2-3 Year Old Child
- Multilingual Development Agencies: Activities to Encourage Speech and Language Development: Two to Four Year Olds