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Building Your Child's Vocabulary

By: Reading Rockets
Talking to and reading with your child are two terrific ways to help them hear and read new words. Conversations and questions about interesting words are easy, non-threatening ways to get new words into everyday talk. Here are some ideas to get you started.

All parents want their child to do well in school. One way to help your child is to help them build their vocabulary. Beginning readers use knowledge about words to help them make sense of what they're reading. The more words a reader knows, the more they are able to comprehend what they're reading or listening to.

Talking to and reading with your child are two terrific ways to help them hear and read new words. Conversations and questions about interesting words ("The book says, 'The boy tumbled down the hill,' and look at the picture! How do you think he went down the hill?") are easy, non-threatening ways to get new words into everyday talk.

Sharing a new word with your child doesn't have to take a long time: just a few minutes to talk about the word and then focus back on the book or conversation. Choose which words to talk about carefully — choosing every new word might make reading seem like a chore. The best words to explore with your child are ones that are common among adult speakers but are less common to see in the books your child might read.

When introducing new words to your young learner, keep the following four helpful hints in mind:

First, provide a simple, kid-friendly definition for the new word:

Enormous means that something is really, really big.

Second, provide a simple, kid-friendly example that makes sense within their daily life:

Remember that really big watermelon we got at the grocery store? That was an enormous watermelon!

Third, encourage your child to develop their own example:

What enormous thing can you think of? Can you think of something really big that you saw today? That's right! The bulldozer near the park was enormous! Those tires were huge.

Lastly, keep your new words active within your house.

Over the next few days and weeks, take advantage of opportunities to use each new vocabulary word in conversation.

Take the time to share new words and build your child's vocabulary. You'll be enormously glad you did!

Reading Rockets (2009)

Comments

Intentionally taking time to talk with children is a very effective way of building their vocabulary, probably more so than buying a program of some sort.

Make reading with your child everyday a priority. Let your child follow the words as you read with a small flashlight. Cherish this special time, soon they'll be reading to you!

My son and I choose a prefix and then try to think of as many words as possible that have that a common prefix or root, focusing on the definitions and what aspect of the definitions the words have in common. It's a lot more fun than trying to memorize Greek and Latin roots. When there is a connection it's easier to remember. It's also great for building vocabulary; just get a composition book to write them down.

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