Beginning in first grade, my kiddos have all had a vocabulary test once a week all the way through elementary school. I would like to have you believe that I’m the world’s greatest mom and relish these opportunities to quiz my little geniuses! But in all honesty, some nights I just don’t want to go through the vocabulary list again. After all, we’ve already tackled spelling and multiplication facts – do we really need vocabulary too? The answer to my own question is a resounding “Yes!” Increasing vocabulary is an essential skill for young readers. Red Apple Reading has some helpful information about the importance of vocabulary and how you can help your little one boost her language skills.
What’s the Big Deal?
You might be wondering what all the vocabulary fuss is about. Does your child really need to know the meaning of all kinds of words?
- Dictionaries Are Not Always Available – While dictionaries are wonderful tools (every household should have one) they are not in themselves sufficient for helping our kids develop their language. After all, we do not always have quick access to this resource. And even when a dictionary is available, children may not always take advantage of this luxury.
- Improved Reading Comprehension – While your child may be able to read a word, it doesn’t necessarily mean she understands the meaning of the word. Reading is an important life skill and your kid will only reap the full benefits if she comprehends the text. A large vocabulary will help to improve your child’s reading comprehension.
- Self-expression – Vocabulary not only helps our kids academically, it also benefits them socially. When children have a large vocabulary, they are better able to express themselves and be understood by others. In an article for Scholastic, Francie Alexander says, “How many times have you asked your students or your own children to ‘use your words’? When children and adolescents improve their vocabulary, their academic and social confidence and competence improve, too.” A broad vocabulary is a great tool for helping children succeed in social situations.
How Can I Help?
There are several ways that you can help your little one increase his vocabulary!
- Be a Vocabulary Model – Most of us could never make it in the fashion industry, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be models! Modeling a good vocabulary is a great way to help your kid increase her language skills. Conversing with our children is a natural part of our day. By being intentional in using new words and explaining the meaning of words, we will help our kids boost their vocabulary! Check out this mom’s fun way of modeling vocabulary in What Do We Do All Day.
- Read – When you read to your child, you are not only spending some great quality time together, but you are also helping her build vocabulary. Regular exposure to the written word is an ideal method for boosting language; and with mom or dad there to explain new words it makes reading that much more meaningful.
- Teach Context – Teaching our kids how to use context to figure out the meaning of words is an important skill in growing their vocabulary. When your child comes to you with his book asking for the meaning of a word, resist the urge to automatically reply. Instead, teach him to look at the text around the word to find clues to the word’s meaning. This is an invaluable skill for readers of any age and comes in particularly handy when a dictionary is not readily available!
How do you help your kiddo expand his vocabulary? Leave us a comment below – we love to hear your ideas!