8 Top Ways to Boost Your Child’s Vocabulary
Updated: Sep 20
Most children are not only curious about their surroundings but want to easily understand what they read. Academics say that a strong vocabulary could not only be an indicator of a higher IQ but is a predicator of academic success.
Below are 8 ways to help your child build her vocabulary:
1. Use BIG words in conversation with your child
It is easy to use simple words when you are talking to your child but adding in more complex words and idioms now and then in your daily conversations will help her become familiar with them. Should you notice that your child doesn’t know a BIG word – explain it to her (make sure you get it right!)
2. Make reading a breeze
Reading is the best way to enrich your child's vocabulary. Humans – big and small – are all the same. Help your little one find a comfortable spot to enjoy reading. Read for your child if your child cannot read by herself. Then build upon that so the child is happy to sit by themselves and read a book. Make sure the reading area is well lit.
Start with picture books – possibly favourite cartoon characters or Mr Men/Little Miss titles that are very easy to digest. Over time, your child will want more challenging reads so they don’t get bored.
Regular conversations about what they like and what they have read will encourage them. Did they like the plot? Was the protagonist appealing? Was there an antagonist?
3. Talk to your child like an adult
Talking is a human superpower. It is key to learning a language. Ask your child what her dream was last night or how her day went? Or what she would like to do when she has some free time. Talk to her about what she likes. Tell her about your work, your childhood, your friends, your hopes and dreams.
Encourage your child to talk as much as possible, this is how you will help her become familiar with words she doesn’t use around other children.
4. Play word games with your child
Games like hangman, scrabble, and crosswords are great at teaching your child new words in a fun way. These games will not only entertain your child but also educate them.
Give your child an example of how to use a certain word. Play associations games and, in my view, the best one is Eye Spy.
5. Encourage writing
Make sure paper and writing implements are always available – or make sure your child knows where she can find them. A whiteboard in the child’s bedroom – or even in the kitchen – encourages them to leave small messages. While spelling is extremely important, it is wise to take the path of least resistance and be less critical – perhaps correcting it in another colour should she get it wrong.
Ask your child questions in writing – if they have a phone, texting is a good way to get them to write back. Discourage the use of voice messaging on apps like WhatsApp – it could encourage laziness. Write notes with questions to your child like "What snacks would you like to have for your Friday movie night? Make a list!"
6. Post-it notes all around
Use post-it colourful notes around your house. It will help your child to connect the words written with the object the notes are attached to.
7. Listen carefully to what your child is saying
Your child goes off into the big wide world every day – be it kindergarten, school, playdates with friends or simply just hanging out in the playground. Did she learn a new word today? What does it mean? What was she most proud of that day? What made her laugh? What excited her the most today?
8. Patience is a virtue. Be virtuous.
Children copy their parents or adults that they spend time with. Everyone makes mistakes – children generally don’t know better and can mispronounce new words. Similarly, they may use them inappropriately. Be virtuous. Correct gently. Explain the meaning and when they should use the word.
Everyone has their own pace. Teach your children that knowledge is power! Encourage them to explore the language and to keep reading.
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