Child Finally Talking? Top Core Words to Target Next!

February 19, 2016

Many children work really hard to get to those first word approximations! Words like mama, dada, bah bah…they don’t always just emerge so as Speech-Language Pathologist we often encourage sign language or pointing and choosing pictures as a way to stimulate the expressive language to emerge.  We know that children who have a good vocabulary will be stronger students and have less behavioral issues as they can use their words rather than their physical skills to get or communicate their needs or desires.  Once they begin to talk and imitate sounds or noises, what’s next? We find that encouraging play and imitation with these four categories of words are not only functional but easily imitated and useful!


Your child may already being using interjections such as: wow!, yuck, ooh, oops or uh-oh, but helping them learn this next phase of interjections advances their ability to answer simple questions as well as being social.

yes                      no

hey/hi/hello        goodbye,

please                 thank you

all done

These words are tops on our list! Not only will you praise your child when they use these words, so will family members and strangers!


on/off                  in/out

up/down              under

We use these word often when giving directions to our young children. “Get the remote that’s on the table.” “Put your toys in the toy box.” “Look up there’s an airplane!” As you play and interact with your child, make a point to use these words often and don’t be afraid to use hand over hand assistance to model the correct positional placement as you play.  The more often your child hears and has opportunity to use these words at home, at school and out in the community the quicker these words will become part of their expressive vocabulary.


I                          my

you                     me

mine                   it

he                       she

we                      they

These are easily targeted through mealtime or tea time play opportunities or while looking through pictures of family outings. “Who is that?” “Me!/You!” If your child speaks in first person “That’s Garrett’s.” When referring to his own toy, gently model, “You mean to say ‘That’s mine!'”


go/stop               eat/drink

get/want             look/see

play/work           help


Using verbs and helping your child learn verbs are very important as verbs are powerful! They get your child things.  “Want ball?” “Go out!” Combine the categories for even more powerful phrases, “I go!” “Help please!”

Click below for a free complete list of the Top 100 Core Words:
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