Oftentimes, a child’s early vocabulary is filled with a lot of nouns. While nouns are great, it is also extremely beneficial to start teaching your child more verbs (action verbs) to broaden their expressive/receptive vocabulary. It is very important to focus on modeling verbs as they are essential for many word combinations.

Early Intervention speech therapists routinely focus on building these skills with children. The attached image illustrates some examples of action verbs for you to begin using with your child today.

Verbs are helpful for a child to have in their vocabulary when they are trying to combine words and start talking in short phrases. When you think about it, it is hard to make a short phrase or sentence without using a verb. Therefore, you can target new words throughout your daily routines by labeling all your actions and your child’s actions. If you would like your child to start approximating short phrases, take notice of how many verbs they are using and try incorporating more into their everyday routines.

By 24 months a child should be using a variety of verbs and even combining two-word phrases when communicating. Typically developing 24-month-old children will demonstrate the use of around 40 verbs. If your child is using little to no verbs by this age, it may be a concern as it will impact their language development and ability to form short phrases. If the child is demonstrating other language difficulties, it may be beneficial to speak with a speech-language pathologist. They can give advice on building the child’s vocabulary and language development skills. 

Ways to help your child learn new verbs. Take your child’s lead and incorporate verbs into activities that they enjoy. Show your child what the actions words mean, pairing the words with the actions throughout play and daily routines. Most importantly, repeat this list of new verbs over again and consistently across your different routines. Repeating the verb in a variety of settings will help your child learn the new vocabulary faster and learn when to use the verbs.

If you have questions about Early Intervention Speech Therapy for your child, send me a message. I am glad to help.

About the Author: Jacqueline Banks, M.S. CCC-SLP earned her B.S. in Psychology at The State University of New York College at Oneonta and her M.S. in Speech-Language Pathology from Sacred Heart University. Jacqueline provides Early Intervention Speech Therapy Services to children ages 0-3 in Westchester County.