Tips to increase your child’s vocabulary

Have you ever noticed the rich vocabulary in a picture book? I was struck by this recently as I was sharing a picture book during storytime. The book noted that the bear lived in a “lair.” I pointed out this word. I said “lair” is a special name for an animal’s home. I had the children (and the adults) repeat the word with me. What I did is an example of building a child’s word consciousness. Word consciousness is an awareness of and an interest in words and their meaning.

Happy boy with letter magnetsTeachers and parents develop a child’s word consciousness by reading. Storytime is the perfect time to share a new, interesting or sophisticated word. Teaching a young child to become word conscious is essential to language development. It is also a predictor of success in reading. Research shows the more words a child knows, the easier it will be for them to read and to understand what is read.

Fortunately, children are eager and excited to learn new words. A child will learn new words the more he/she hears, sees and engages with them.

10 strategies to boost your child’s vocabulary

  1. father and daughter reading book outsideRead often.
  2. Set aside time for one-on-one interactions.
  3. Incorporate new words into your daily routine.
  4. Talk about a new word and define it.
  5. Connect your child’s prior knowledge to the new word.
  6. Talk with your child.
  7. Model using a variety of words. For example happy can become cheerful, delighted, overjoyed or pleased.
  8. Tell stories that introduce new words.
  9. Point out similarities of words.
  10. Praise your child for using a new word.

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As the Early Childhood Learning Coordinator, Sherry is focused on engaging young children and their families in play-based early learning experiences. The Learn & Play Bus and its service are at the heart of her work. Sherry has a background in early childhood education.