A strong vocabulary is one of the best gifts you can give your children. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you should push your kid for vocabulary practice forcefully. Rather, cultivate a love for words by exposing them to a variety of books, providing vocabulary tools, engaging them in word games, and making new words a part of your everyday conversations.
Fill Your Child’s World with Books
Exposure to books is one of the best ways to expand your child’s world and with it, his or her vocabulary. Provide reading material that includes unfamiliar words but also has plenty of words that your child can relate to or has used before. The familiar words will help your child understand the text and be able to deduce the meanings of the unfamiliar words.
Reading aloud to kids gives them the opportunity to hear new words in use. For the effective vocabulary-building opportunities, read a mix of genres to your child. This should include picture books or chapters books, but it should also include nonfiction selections. Informational text is particularly important because adults are more likely to draw attention to unfamiliar vocabulary when reading nonfiction books.
Children should also be encouraged to read books on their own. Research has shown a correlation between personal reading habits and vocabulary size. That makes sense since studies have also indicated that people learn 5 to 15 percent of the words in their vocabulary through reading.
Give Your Child Access to Definitions
There are two things that should be on every kid’s shelf: a dictionary and a thesaurus. These books keep information about new words at children’s fingertips. Once children learn how to use these two, they can gain an understanding about unfamiliar words even when an adult is not nearby to help.
Dictionaries that are written specifically for children will present the information in a format that is understandable to youngsters. Kids are more likely to remember what a word means if its definition is easy for them to understand. Best kids dictionary reviews can help you identify dictionaries that present definitions in a kid-friendly format that both appeals to young readers and makes sense to them. When reading best kids dictionary reviews, you may also notice that the most appealing children’s dictionaries and thesauruses include not only text but also images that help kids make connections between words and their meanings.
Use Word Games to Increase Interest in Vocabulary
Although a dictionary is a useful tool to which every kid should have access, most children won’t read one from cover to cover. In addition to teaching your child to use dictionaries and thesauruses, you should also engage children in vocabulary building by playing word games with them. As children encounter new words while playing, they will add to their vocabulary. Plus, a desire to achieve and compete will drive some children to study up on vocabulary outside of game time.
Children of all ages can play word games. For example, with very young children, play an oral game in which they name the opposite of the word you say. As children get older, you can expand beyond oral games to include pencil-and-paper word puzzles and word-based board games.
Use New Words in Conversation
It would be easier if everyone remembered new words after hearing them once, but vocabulary retention is more complicated than that. When your child is learning a new vocabulary word, make a point of using that word in sentences and in everyday conversation. This helps your child relate new information to the knowledge that they already possess.
It’s also important to encourage your child to use the new word in conversation. For example, if your child is becoming familiar with the word “benevolent,” provide an example of someone he or she knows who is good-hearted. Then, ask him or her to come up with another example of a benevolent person. This practice furthers your child’s connections with the new vocabulary term.
The more that you expose your children to new words and engage them with those words, the more their vocabularies will blossom. Help your children regularly learn new words, and they will carry their rich vocabularies into adulthood.