A broad and diverse vocabulary is considered to be incredibly important for humans to acquire, and starting young is the most effective way to develop one. Not only does a wide vocabulary give kids the ability to express emotions and feelings, but it also helps them communicate better with others, boosts their powers of persuasion and ensures they make a good impression on other people.
We’re all aware of the importance of developing literacy skills from a young age, but how can you, as a parent, ensure your child has the best chance of learning all the words they need? Here are some of our top tips for widening your child’s vocabulary.
Take the tedium out of vocab and instead make learning new words interactive and fun with wordy activities. Whether you're a lover of traditional games like Scrabble and Hangman, or perhaps you prefer digital games such as Words With Friends, there are hundreds of great word games out there to really help boost your child's vocabulary in a fun way. Some of the top word-game apps that you can download on smartphones and tablets include Big Bird’s Words, Endless Reader and Word Mess.
Alternatively, Mrs Wordsmith has interactive card games such Storyteller’s Card Game and Blah Blah Blah Phonics Card Game that are guaranteed fun to play with all of the family. By associating vocab learning with fun and enjoyment, your child will be far more willing to absorb what they are learning. In fact, research shows that kids learn best through play. Turning something into a game promotes independent learning and is particularly beneficial for vocabulary learning because active engagement with words helps kids retain them.
While this tip may seem like common sense, it really does work. During early years, every child’s main source of vocabulary is their parents - meaning that everything you say and do makes a huge impression on your child’s learning. A great way to broaden a child's vocabulary, therefore, is to drop more advanced words into your conversations. Pepper your conversations with a few grown-up words and phrases that your child will most likely not understand. Then follow this up with clarification, explaining their meaning and encouraging your child to ask about them. When you speak to your child in the same way that you would speak to other adults, their vocabulary is broadened much more quickly. Another great tip is to repeat your child’s utterances back to them, swapping a few of their words for more complex alternatives so that they begin to understand new means of phrasing. Substituting synonymous adjectives is a great and easy way to do this, and it reinforces the learning of new vocabulary.
Make time to read with your child every day. A top tip when doing this is to ensure you take turns so that your child can develop their skills at reading out loud, at the same time as absorbing the book’s vocabulary when you are reading. When it’s your turn to read, you can emphasise key words and phrases that you think are important. Reading together is also a great way to closely monitor your child’s reading and literacy progress, and it’s the perfect opportunity to gently correct any mistakes they may be making. What’s more, research has shown that kids who are exposed to more reading at home develop neural circuits that help with comprehension. Don’t forget to ask them questions and encourage them to share their thoughts about what you’re reading, either - according to literacy experts, conversations with adults make children’s brain better wired for complex thinking, and this is particularly effective for learning new words. Just make sure you choose books that will challenge your child without causing them to struggle too much. If you're looking for the best books for your child’s reading age, check out this article by Bookfinder.
But the final and arguably most important tip is patience. Avoid overloading your child with sophisticated and complex vocabulary 24/7, and instead be consistent with reading, conversing and playing. This way, your child won't become overwhelmed with learning and can steadily build a wide vocabulary that will benefit them for years to come.
By Sara Robards - content writer for My Favourite Voucher Codes