Are you looking to help your child improve their vocabulary, but aren’t sure where to begin?
Helping your child build their vocabulary is one of the most worthwhile things you can do for them. Not only will a strong vocabulary help them in school, but it will also help them in everyday life.
A strong vocabulary helps foster communication, understanding, and critical thinking, both inside and outside the classroom.
And, the great news is that helping your child improve their vocabulary can be relatively easy and fun–if you know how to do it.
So, where do you start?
Read on to learn how to help your child develop a strong vocabulary.
Use “Grown Up” Words When Conversing With Your Child
Too many parents fall into the habit of talking to their child like they’re a baby. But, guess what, the more you talk down to your child, the less likely they are to develop a strong vocabulary.
Of course, you want your child to understand what you are saying. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t sprinkle in a few “grown-up words” into your conversations.
From now on, when you speak to your child, use some words that you would use in a conversation with an adult. After you use a big word, be sure to pause and see if your child needs clarification.
The more you use grown-up words in your conversations, the stronger their vocabulary will become.
Slow and Steady
When introducing new vocabulary to your child, slow and steady wins the race.
If you try to introduce them to 20 new words a day, they are never going to remember them. Instead, focus on helping them learn around 5 new words per week.
Or, you can think of it as one word a day for each weekday, and then the weekend can serve as a “review” time for their new words.
It is also important to note that your child will need to hear a word more than one time in order to remember it.
In general, a child will need to hear a new word 4 to 12 times before they can add it to their vocabulary.
Therefore, when you teach your child a new word, make a mental note and try to incorporate the word into conversation throughout the week. And, make sure you aren’t the only one saying the word to them.
If there are other family members in your household, encourage them to use this new word around your child as well.
Reading, Reading, and Reading
It should come as no surprise that reading is the best way to help your child develop a strong vocabulary.
As often as you can, read books with your child. When your child comes to a word that they don’t know, give them a definition of it that they will understand, and then move on.
It’s important to avoid having a big pause over the word, as this will disrupt the flow of their reading, and it can make a fun activity feel like a chore. So, continue on with the story and them come back to the word at the end.
If your child is too young to read full stories, start by reading aloud to them. This can be just as effective in helping them develop their vocabulary.
Also, it is very important that you allow your child to choose the books you read together. Learning new words will be most effective if the child has an interest in the topic. Plus, allowing your child to choose their own books will help them develop a love for reading that they can carry through their whole life.
That being said, you should also encourage your child to pick out books that are challenging for them. Picking books that are slightly above their reading level will make for more opportunities to learn new words.
And lastly, make sure you interact with your child when you read together. Don’t simply read the story and be done with it. In order to make reading a more interactive experience and make sure they comprehend the story you can:
- Ask your child about the pictures on the page
- Allow your child to turn the pages
- Ask them what they thought of the story when you’re done reading it
- Try to connect the story to their own life
- Ask the child questions about the different characters
By reading every day, you will help your child take their vocabulary to new levels.
Playing games is one of the best (and most fun) ways to help your child develop a strong vocabulary.
Word games you can play with your child include:
- Apples to Apples
- Word Stack
You can also print off crossword puzzles and word finds on the internet for your child. There are even phone apps that can help your child learn new words.
Take Them to New Places
Taking your child to a new place gives you an excellent opportunity to expose them to new vocabulary words.
Every time you go to a new place, talk about what you see and what you experience. Discussing your new surroundings will help your child learn new words that they wouldn’t learn at home or at school.
Different places you can take your child to learn new words include zoos, museums, aquariums, parks, restaurants, and even grocery stores!
When you are in a new place, try to bring certain objects that they may be unfamiliar with to their attention in order to stimulate conversation.
Relate New Words to Known Words
When trying to teach your child new words, one of the best ways to help them learn is to relate the new word to a known word.
This way, they can make an association with the word in their brain that will help the word stick.
For example, let’s say your child knows the word fruit and they know the word apple. Knowing these words can help them learn other fruit-related words like grapes, peaches, or limes.
Or, let’s say your child knows the word mad. This can help them learn the word upset or angry.
Are You Ready to Help Your Child Develop a Strong Vocabulary?
As you can see, there are many fun and easy ways to help your child develop a strong vocabulary.
If you have any questions about the techniques listed in this article, please let us know in the comments below.
And, if your child has a language disorder, click here to learn how online speech therapy can help.