Four Easy Ways to Increase Your Child's Vocabulary

The following post is from Jennifer, a lifelong educator:

Boy in hat
source: Tobyotter

Words are our main tools of communication.  The better your children can articulate their thoughts, the more success they will experience in school and often, in life.  Here are four ways to help enlarge a child’s vocabulary:

Do what comes naturally – talk!

You’ve probably heard it before:  Avoid baby talk, even with an infant.

Use simple sentences.  Emphasize thoughts with repetition.  “We’re riding in the car.  Daddy rides in the car.  Mommy rides in the car.  Aidan rides in the car.  We are all riding in the car.”

As your children get older, attach and connect meaning to the things that they see.  “Do you see that bird?  That’s called a crane.  It sounds like the name of the big machine we saw yesterday.  Why do you think they are both called cranes?”

Be purposeful in teaching them new terminology.  Start with a word they know, then insert a synonym.  “You’re right – we were on time for your dentist appointment.  I like to be punctual for appointments.”

Enrich your child’s experiential learning by prepping them ahead of time.  Before you go to the zoo, a museum, even a store, talk about what you’ll see and do.  Then, reinforce those words during the event.  Connecting the concepts and the experience will help the new words to stick.

Read to and with your child!

Reading and words go hand-in-hand.  The more time kids spend between the pages of a book, the more their vocabulary grows.  And the more words they know, the easier learning will be throughout their school years.

Read aloud every day.  Babies love for you to point to the pictures and give them simple labels.  Books give you a chance to talk about words that you might not use every day.  Even after your child knows how to read, exploring books together will help them to develop a more complex vocabulary as you help them to interact with challenging words.

When you come to a word that your older child doesn’t know, show them how to find the word in the dictionary.  If you own the book, underline the word and write the meaning in the margin.  It will be there for them the next time they read that book!

Sing!

We’ve all had the experience of words flooding into our minds when we hear the first few notes of a song.  You can increase your child’s vocabulary by singing traditional songs as well as making up some of your own.  There’s research that shows us how music can reinforce language.

Take full advantage of the Internet.

There are lots of age-appropriate activities online that can enhance and enlarge your child’s word bank, some of which even help other people.  FreeRice.com is a non-profit website that is owned by and supports the United Nations World Food Program.  It teaches vocabulary and donates rice to needy countries every time you play games on the site.

As your children’s vocabularies grow, you’ll delight in the new ways that you get to communicate with them!

How do you help your child understand and learn new words?

Jennifer is passionate about children and education. She homeschooled her two sons for five years, established and directed a Christian school in Maryland for 20 years, and currently teaches in a public school in a Chicago suburb. She loves investing in relationships and delights in every moment that she spends with her family.
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