If you don't want your 2-year-old privy to adult conversations, it's time to start spelling. Even if she starts the year with only 50 or so words in her vocabulary, by year's end she'll understand most of what you say to her. In fact, according to some experts, between the ages of two and six, children learn the meanings of an estimated eight new words per day.
If she hasn't said her first two-word sentence yet, she will soon. And shortly after that, she'll graduate to three words sentences, followed by four, five and possibly even six-word narratives.
Just by listening and repeating, your child will begin to pick up basic rules of grammar. For example, instead of referring to herself by name, she'll begin to use pronouns like "I" and "me," but not necessarily in the proper syntax. Other pronouns such as "we," "they" and "it" also will surface with increasing regularity.
Her pronunciations also are getting clearer. It still may be hard for strangers to catch all of what your toddler has to say, but by the time she arrives at that third birthday, she should be able to speak and be understood more than half the time.
It's estimated that about one out of every 10 to 15 children experiences trouble with either language comprehension or speech. If your pediatrician suspects there may be a problem, he may refer you to a speech and language specialist. Early intervention -- which can begin now -- can help prevent problems in other areas of learning. Of course, keep in mind that some children are just more talkative than others, and a child of few words does not necessarily have a speech problem.
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