Children’s vocabulary is incredibly important. A good vocabulary can help them to do well in school and later in life. It can also help them to seem more intelligent, good at their jobs, trustworthy, and capable. If your child is very young you might think that they’ve got a long time to develop a wider vocabulary and that it’s not something that you need to think about just yet. However, research shows that the size of a 4-year-old’s vocabulary is a relatively accurate predictor of how well they will do in exams when they are 16.
The good news is that developing a rich vocabulary doesn’t have to be tedious, and it certainly isn’t something that you should leave to schools to develop. There are plenty of fun ways that you can help your child at home.
Play Word Games
Word games are a fantastic way for children of all ages to learn new words and develop an interest in language and meaning. Word games can even help adults to learn new words and challenge their minds, which can reduce the risk of cognitive decline in later life.
When your kids are very young, basic games like Boggle and Scrabble Jr can be fantastic, but as they get older you can explore more difficult games together. An unscrambler can also be a great resource for word game lovers.
Even before your child can read themselves, you can be expanding their vocabulary and their love of books by reading to them. Then, as they get older, listen to them read schoolbooks, but when you read to them, try to read texts which are above their reading level. This will challenge them, introduce them to new words, and get them excited about the things they’ll be able to read in the future.
Never Skip a New Word
Whether you are reading, watching TV, or just out walking, if they come across a word, either read or spoken out loud that they don’t know, never just skip over it. Spend some time going through some synonyms, discussing the meaning, and giving examples of it in a sentence. Try to repeat the word as you do this to help it to stick.
When we read non-fiction books, we find jargon and topic-specific language that we might not see anywhere else. You might even have to look up some of the meanings yourself.
We don’t just learn new words when we read. There will be plenty of new language in documentaries. Just make sure thatanything you watch is age appropriate and encourage your child to ask questions. If you don’t know the answers, don’t lie, or leave it, but spend some time researching together.
Talk with Them
Even babies and young children listen and respond to a loved one’s voice. Talk to and lay with them as much as you can. Encourage questions and even debate and avoid dumbing down your language for them. If you use a word that you don’t think they’ll know, double-check by asking them to use an example and explain if you need to.
Encourage Your Child to Tell Stories
A rich vocabulary isn’t just about knowing words and being able to recite them. We must also have the confidence to use them. Telling stories is a wonderful way for your child to develop and explore their vocabulary. Let them tell you stories, write stories down, and most importantly, give themtime with their toys and their imagination to create worlds filled with their words.
A rich vocabulary is a wonderful tool at any age, and the sooner your child starts to develop and master theirs, the richer it will become.
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