A new study of toddlers has found that the bigger the vocabulary, the better prepared for kindergarten the children are likely to be in a few years.

The Bigger the Vocabulary the Better Prepared for KindergartenResults showed that two year olds who say more phrases tend to have fewer behavioral problems and better language and math skills when they are ready to enter kindergarten.

“Certain groups of populations at 24 months are more likely to show lower levels of vocabulary, and helping those kids who may be at risk is important,” said lead author Paul L. Morgan of  Pennsylvania State University. “Having a smaller vocabulary even at this young age is predictive of lower kindergarten readiness.”

Almost 9,000 children were studied, and parents were asked how many of a list of 50 common words were used by the children at age two. Those whose parents had higher income and education level tended to have a wider vocabulary, as well as those who had high quality parenting. Lower vocabularies were present among children with low birth weight and those whose mothers had health problems.

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