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7 Effective Ways To Expand Your Child’s Vocabulary

Vocabulary development plays a critical role in helping your little one communicate effectively with the world around them, and sets them up for success in school and beyond. Parents play a critical role in helping a child develop a robust vocabulary – here are seven simple yet effective everyday practices your child will greatly benefit from.

Use grown-up words in conversation

Understanding that your little one has a limited vocabulary doesn’t mean you have to use baby talk or simplify your words all the time. When conversing with your child, slip in new or “grown-up” words that you’d use in adult conversation. Encourage them to ask about words they do not understand, and explain patiently and clearly. Using unfamiliar and more advanced words while talking to your child will encourage them to pick up and eventually incorporate these new words into their vocabulary.

Let your child tell the story

Reading bedtime stories are a great way to bond, but encouraging your child to create and tell you their own story can yield good results. For starters, provide a story setting and a plot, then let your little one’s imagination lead the way. During the story, introduce new words by asking questions. For example, if your child says, “The princess was happy,” you could ask, “Did she look cheerful?” Or,  if the child says, “The building was big,” you could say, “It was gigantic!”

Make sure to provide a kid-friendly definition for the new word you’re introducing, and then encourage your child to give their own example. “What else is gigantic?” Then, keep the new word active in other conversations so that your kid can repeat and practice it.

Converse regularly

Expanding your child’s vocabulary can begin even from babyhood. Simply start talking more, while using words that give context to your daily activities. For example, “I’m cooking breakfast for the family!” or “I am making a sandwich”. While doing so, you could hold up a piece of bread and say “bread”. Get into the habit of naming or pointing out different objects or subjects to your little one, and allow them to practice their growing vocabulary through regular conversations with you as they get older.

Play word games

Engage older children by playing fun word games. If playing old-school favourites such as Hangman, Boggle or Scrabble isn’t as convenient, parents could download apps such as Hanging With Friends or Word Solitaire: Aurora to keep screen time fun yet educational.

Label household items

Teach your kid about everyday items right in the comforts of your own home. Simply label and paste post-it notes on your furniture, appliances, and even little knick-knacks – as your tot gets older, they will learn to associate corresponding words. Also, be sure to review the labels by pronouncing it and asking your child to repeat each word.

Be specific

As your child’s first teacher, you play an important role in building up the foundation of their vocabulary. When your little one starts expressing curiosity about a word, be sure teach them the correct definition, while providing proper details, examples and comparisons. Don’t be vague!

Gently correct mistakes

Be prepared to repeat words, definitions and comparisions many, many times before your child can fully understand and begin to apply their newfound knowledge in conversation. Encourage your child’s enthusiasm for learning by exercising patience throughout the process. And don’t be anxious if other children seem to be doing ‘better’, because everyone develops at their own pace (even you did!).

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