October 12, 2015

Child Speech Therapy: Quantity vs. Quality Words

Meredith Rowe conducted a study in 2012 to determine if a child would benefit more from the quantities of words or quality of words they are exposed to. She examined children between 18 months and 54 months. She focused on the amount of words (quantity) and the quality of the words their parents were using with their children.
Study Results:
Rowe found that younger children benefit mainly from the quantity of words, where as the older children benefit mostly from the quality of the words. Children between ages 12 and 24 months need to be exposed to many different words. Parents should continue to introduce many new words in daily conversations. Children between ages 24 and 36 months benefit from the quality of the words more so than the amount of words. Children between ages 36 and 48 months should be exposed to more past and future narratives. Parents should be explaining things that have happened, as well as discussing adventures that will be happening. For example, reminiscing on the day at park or discussing a future vacation.
Child Therapy Strategies for  Home:
For parents of children who are 2+ years old, the research suggests modeling words/concepts that are slightly beyond their child’s development level. This can be done successfully by using familiar words to define the new word or familiar ideas to elaborate on the new concept. It is beneficial for the child to have new words incorporated into daily activities. At the grocery store, the parent can make a short list with common items for the child to find and cross off. The parent might introduce a new word by combining it with a common term. The parent might write the words ‘fruit- peach’ on the list. The child should be able to walk to the fruit section of the store, but might need guidance to help find a peach. Therefore, the parent is introducing a new word ‘peach’ by using a familiar word ‘fruit’.
Another great strategy to incorporate quality words is the use of synonyms. A parent can introduce words during playtime. For instance, while playing in the backyard the parent can replace the word ‘run’ with ‘jog’ or ‘sprint’. The parent might suggest jogging to the tree and can teach the word by modeling the act of jogging by running a little slower. They can then show the child to sprint by running extra fast.
Click here if you would like further information on this study or more implementation examples.


Lowry, Lauren. “Build Your Child’s Vocabulary.” Build Your Child’s Vocabulary. The Hanen Centre, n.d. Web. 16 June 2015.

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