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How you can help your toddler learn new verbs

Updated: Jan 27, 2021

You cannot construct a sentence in English without verbs! Find out more....

What are verbs? Verbs are words that describe action - cut, sleep, eat, come, go. They are among the earliest of words learnt by young children. Think about the early utterances that children make: 'Carry me!' 'Come here', 'Give me', 'Don't go'. Even a little child who can only say two words together, uses verbs. Why? Because, you cannot construct a sentence in English without verbs!

There is good reason, therefore, to focus on teaching verbs to your young child. A young child with a good verb vocabulary can construct long sentences. They can convey more information when speaking and later on, when writing.

So what can you do to help your child?

Describe what your child is doing, in short sentences, with emphasis on the verb. 'Such good cutting!', 'You're really good at jumping!', 'Let's cook together' etc. Talk about the action as it is happening. Toddlers / young children have short attention spans. And they don't always remember things the way you do. Trying to describe things after they have happened might not be very useful.

Remember that you will have to describe the verb many times, before your child is ready to copy you. Use every opportunity to describe actions. Don't think, 'Oh, I told her about this yesterday!' Tell her again today.

Keep your sentences short - really short.

Use your first language to teach new words in English. It's perfectly okay (and makes a lot of sense) to describe the action in your mother tongue first, and then say it in English.

Avoid quizzing your child constantly. ('Tell me what you're doing?'). It gets annoying after a while. Instead you could leave a sentence unfinished:'You are jumping and your brother is....?'. You could use the wrong word and see if your child will correct you: 'You are sleeping', (when your child is obviously eating!).

Use simple games like 'Simon says...' to teach verbs. You be the teacher first. Say, 'Simon says, clap your hands'. Your child must do the action only if you said 'Simon says', before you said the action. If you just said, 'Clap your hands', he must stand still. Don't forget to give your child a chance to be the teacher.

When your child makes a mistake, avoid correcting him with, 'No, that's wrong'. Instead, just model the right word. For example, if your child says 'I eat', avoid saying, "That's wrong. Say 'I am eating'". Instead say, 'That's good talking. "I am eating."'

Making mistakes is an essential part of learning.

Above all, be your child's fun teacher!

And have you tried our 'Brainy Bug - Making English Easy' app? With hundreds of words and sentences, our app is designed to make English easy for your child.

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