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.
Teachers 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
- Read often.
- Set aside time for one-on-one interactions.
- Incorporate new words into your daily routine.
- Talk about a new word and define it.
- Connect your child’s prior knowledge to the new word.
- Talk with your child.
- Model using a variety of words. For example happy can become cheerful, delighted, overjoyed or pleased.
- Tell stories that introduce new words.
- Point out similarities of words.
- Praise your child for using a new word.