Toddlers with larger vocabularies do better at kinder

If your two-year-old is a chatter box, chances are they’re going to start kinder on the front foot. The latest research indicates that toddlers who have a big vocabulary enter preschool already ahead in reading and maths, and they’re also better behaved. 

We spend the first year of our children’s lives waiting for their first precious words, and usually once they’ve mastered the art of talking, you’re likely to never have another moment’s peace! But it appears those first years of speech are incredibly important, with a US study revealing that two-year-olds who have a larger vocabulary tend to be better prepared for kinder.

A team of researchers, led by Pennsylvania State University associate professor of education policy studies, looked at surveys completed by parents who were reporting on their children’s vocabularies at the age of two. What they found was that the vocab gaps between groups of children in the US were already evident, even at that early age.

“Our findings provide compelling evidence for oral vocabulary’s theorised importance as a multifaceted contributor to children’s early development,” says Associate Professor Morgan.


The toddlers who had larger vocabularies were those that were female, from more economically-advantaged families and those who had been getting ‘higher quality parenting’. The children who had a low birthweight, or were being raised by mums with health problems were the ones with smaller vocabularies.

The study then went on to research how those same children were performing in kinder, three years later. What the researchers discovered is that those who had the larger vocab at age two, were now better readers, knew more about maths, and were behaving better.

“Our findings are also consistent with prior work suggesting that parents who are stressed, overburdened, less engaged and who experience less social support may talk, read, or otherwise interact with their children less frequently, resulting in their children acquiring smaller oral vocabularies,” says Associate Professor Morgan.

It’s prompted the researchers to call for greater interventions for two-year-olds in America that are being raised in disadvantaged home situations.

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