Core vocabulary words are high frequency, reusable, generic words. They make up 80-90% of the words we use (e.x. want, more, put, I, mine, go, all done). Core Vocabulary is important because it promotes generative language. This means that the child is not limited to requesting nouns (e.x. "I want cookie"). Using Core Vocabulary gives a child access high frequency, re-usable words and variations of words. The best part is that they can use these words across a variety of events or activities throughout their entire life.
Three tips for using core words at home
Remember, we model language for children, babies have likely heard the same word hundreds to thousands of times before saying it for the first time. This means as parents/caregivers we should constantly be narrating our interactions with children. Start off by talking through daily routines like getting ready for bed. Labeling common familiar objects around the house is another great way to expose a child to language.
We need to make sure we are providing both the opportunity for language and access to it. If the child isn't talking we need to make sure they have other ways of communicating their wants and needs to us in nonverbal ways. This can include gestures, facial expressions, sign language, or a picture exchange system. Just as we model language, we need to model these other forms of communication for the child as well. A Speech Language Pathologist can help you decide which method is best to use with your child and tips on how to implement it. Scroll down to see more ideas on providing nonverbal ways of communication.
At the end of the day, we need to make sure that we are providing meaningful and fun experiences for children while they are learning to communicate. So, have fun!
Sign language is a great way to introduce language to kids who aren't yet communicating. Here are a few of the most common signs that a Speech Therapist will introduce first to a child. To learn more sign language options visit Signing Savvy.com they have an excellent Baby Sign Word List for parents to start learning with.
The Picture Exchange Communication System, or PECS, allows children with little or no communication abilities to communicate using pictures. Children using PECS are taught to give a person a picture of what they want in exchange for that item. By doing this, the child is able to initiate communication.
The Picture Exchange Communication System has 6 Steps that a Speech Therapist can implement. This system can also be used at home. It is a great idea to take pictures of familiar objects that the child often requests or uses in the home. Start by showing the child just one picture of an item or activity that they really want so they begin to associate the picture. Once the child achieves mastery of this you can begin to introduce more pictures and then eventually an "I want" system like in the picture.
A picture exchange system can be designed several different ways. Another option is through a board system like below.
Click below to download the 20 core word board or the 30 core word board to print.
Children need a lot of practice on their core vocabulary words. This packet from PrAACticalAAC contains 12 grids of core words, one for each month. Each month you will target, model, and provide practice for the 12 words on the board. Over the year, you will have given the child focused practice on 144 words that will help them communicate successfully across many activities.
Click below to download the entire packet for printing.