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'Doing Words' - Why Verbs REALLY Matter

Ok, full confession here. I'm not great at cooking. In fact, my culinary expertise really doesn't extend past beans on toast, eggs on toast, or... well, just toast.

So when I decided to follow a new recipe the other day I had to do a quick Google search to figure out what some of the vocabulary meant. A few new verbs came up.

This blog post really is about speech & language, stay with me

Braise. Dice. Fold.

There's actually a lot more meaning and nuance that comes across in these specific verbs than their vague counterparts (e.g. cook, cut, put in the toaster). Which is why they're perfect for cooking instructions. "Just cut it" ain't gonna cut it.

The beauty of these descriptive words is that, other than helping us not make a mess in the kitchen, they also aptly reflect the need for verb diversity in kids' vocabulary too. The range and richness of action words in early speech development matters.

There's already a well established research base that says that children's verb knowledge is a good predictor of later language skills (Hadley et al., 2016) with verb diversity remaining an important consideration (Hsu et al., 2015, Syrett et al., 2014). So instead of vague or general words like 'get' and 'put' (which are still important!) more specific verbs may be an area of focus in home communication or speech therapy practice.

If your child is not using at least 2 verbs by age 2, and around 50 verbs by 2.5 years, you may want to have them assessed by a qualified speech pathologist.


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