Here are some tips to help children develop a strong vocabulary.
1. Don't talk to kids like they're babies (even if they are babies). I mean, coo at them all you want, but also speak to them about politics, life, books, whatever interests you.
2. When you run out of things to say, read ketchup bottles aloud or describe a picture in your house. I'm not kidding. I do this...and I've been reading Shakespeare to Why-Why. I figure that, if I'm going to be reading, I might as well stimulate his brain while I'm at it.
3. When a child says something incorrectly like "I runned", don't correct them in a negative way. Answer like this: "Yes. You ran, didn't you?" This encourages them to keep trying new language without getting frustrated, while teaching them the proper use of the word.
4. Read, Read, Read. Start way before they understand. When they can understand, find age-appropriate reading they'll enjoy...even if that means chewable books.
5. Go to the library. Let the kids get library cards.
6. Be passionate about reading. Let the kids see your passion.
7. Have books at kid-level.
+Baby's eye-level=board books.
+Preschooler's eye-level=picture books.
+5-8 year old's eye-level=beginning chapter books
...and so on. Kids will realize that they get to reach for bigger and bigger books as they progress.
8. Keep the computer and TV off as much as possible. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends keeping kids from all screen media until they are 2. I'm a firm believer in this. They develop their creativity (and language) instead.
These are the ideas that I know have helped my kids. What other tips have helped in your homes?