Vocabulary development is a critical component in your child’s ability to interact with the world around them. Children need the right words to effectively communicate their thoughts and ideas to others. Strong vocabulary development also impacts listening and reading comprehension. The more vocabulary words your child knows, the more likely they will comprehend what they are hearing or reading. So how can parents help? We’ve gathered pointers from educators Nell K. Duke and Annie M. Moses.
- Read To Them
Studies indicate that children do learn words from books read aloud to them. Most helpful will be reading aloud books and other materials (such as magazines or environmental print) that have some, but not too many, words that are new to children. Read-aloud of storybooks is important, but also important is read-aloud of other types of text, such as information books. Some research even suggests that teachers and parents highlight vocabulary more when reading aloud information books than when reading aloud stories.
- Get Them Reading
Children also learn new words through reading independently. Researchers estimate that 5–15% of all the words we learn we learn from reading. And indeed, children who read more tend to have richer vocabularies. So when we engage students in motivational activities to encourage reading, we are simultaneously improving their vocabularies.
- Raise Word Consciousness
We want children to notice when they encounter new words and to want to learn them. Some researchers refer to this as word consciousness. There are many ways to draw children’s attention to and interest in words around them. Playing with words through games, songs, and humour can be powerful. Simply encouraging children to recognise when they have encountered new words, and to notice special characteristics of words, will also raise word consciousness.
- Teach Conceptually-Related Words
It often makes sense to teach words not individually but in sets that are conceptually-related, for example words related to farms, words related to families, or names of different animals. Indeed, several research-tested techniques for teaching vocabulary are well suited to teaching groups of words.
- Relate New Words To Known Words
Theory and research on vocabulary learning suggest that helping children relate new words to words they already know is very important. For example, if a child knows the word fruit, and knows the word apple, these words can help children learn the word kiwi. If a child knows what it means to be mad, that may help him learn frustrated. Teaching children to use the context around a word to try to figure out word meanings can also be effective.
How do you help your child build their vocabulary? Leave us a comment down below.