We all know how important words are. They allow us to relay our thoughts with concision and precision.
Words are so innocent when they stand alone in the dictionary, but in the hands of someone who knows how to combine and use them, they become potent for good or evil.
As such, skillful combination and use of words have enthralled, empowered, and entranced us throughout history.
Children and Vocabulary
As children grow and develop, their learning capabilities become particularly rapid in what is known as the critical period. In the first year especially, language abilities appear.
In year two, their vocabulary quadruples in what experts call “vocabulary explosion.” But as they mature, these explosions might disappear.
Their thriving and survival largely depend on the environment and their use. For example, you two-year-old might recognize a word or two from two foreign languages used around them.
But, if one language dominates the other, or one is no longer used, their ability to understand these words is eventually lost.
And, since young children are incredibly fast learners of vocabulary, the acquisition of vocabulary can play a vital role in your child’s success. Actually, an expanded vocabulary is one of the greatest gifts you can give your child.
Plus, it is rather an inexpensive gift that does not involve expensive curricula and takes no extraordinary effort to deliver.
Children are especially great at unconsciously receiving knowledge without being put through hours of tedious practice. And, it is a gift that keeps on giving throughout their lives.
We believe you need to know some of the most popular tips you could use to expand your child’s vocabulary.
While there are many techniques you could use to communicate the meaning of words, these six tips are generally most effective. Keep reading!
Talk to Your Child Regularly
Various studies have shown that kids frequently spoken to by parents in their early formative age (first 3 years) register an IQ that is almost double than those kids who aren’t. Using words in their right context is especially important at this age.
For example, a mother preparing fruit salad might hold up a mango while saying the word “mango.” Additionally, nonverbal cues and repetition will improve the learning and understanding capabilities of the child.
When out with your child, be sure to point at objects or people and name them.
Avoid That Baby Talk With Your Infant
We’ve all been around people that use the high-pitched nonsensical sounds that a baby makes. Avoid that and use real words. The exaggerated facial expressions, drawn-out vowels, and the sing-song tones are not advisable.
Instead, adopt nursery rhymes, and sing them out to help the infants manipulate sounds. As they mature, let them listen and participate in the dinner table conversations with family.
Read Books to Your Children
For very young kids, begin with picture books or short sentence books. As the child grows, gradually introduce more difficult and lengthier stories. And keep them engaged by asking them questions about the characters and their role in the story.
For example, you could explain how a lion communicates by mimicking its roar and comparing that to the sounds a sheep makes.
And, don’t worry about sticking to the exact words of the story as you are teaching vocabulary and not reading. Remember, engagement is of higher priority than accuracy.
Use games, humor, and songs to emphasize the joy of words and to aid in the discovery of meanings. Create an environment that is word-rich with books appropriate for their age and as they mature include comic books or magazines.
Also, introduce them to word games such as building words from scrambled letters. In essence, this tool educates children to find and unscramble new words while making the learning process fun and engaging. Encourage poetry and rhyming games as well.
Plus, you could use pictorial flashcards and printed words relating to what they already know to introduce new words. Remember to use words with multiple but meaningful contexts to make understanding easier.
For example, a child who knows the meaning of “mad” can easily be introduced to words like frustration or anger.
Encourage your child to ask questions and make up stories to make it easier to introduce new words with similar meanings.
This provides the child with a context for the words and makes understanding easier. For example, if a child says the object was “really big,” you could respond with, “it must have been enormous.” Experts advise that when you are introducing new words to your child, you should do as follows:
- Provide a kid-friendly definition of a new world like above, enormous to mean “really big.”
- Use an example of the word that is in tandem with their experience. (Remember the really big bunny we saw? That was an enormous bunny.)
- Encourage the child to use their example to provide meaning to the words. (What else can be enormous? That’s right, the watermelon the child saw at the store.)
- Once they learn new words, keep them active. Your child is more likely to learn by practice and repetition. So, keep using that new word.
Encourage Them to Read and Write Unsupervised
Studies suggest that we promote the correct and contextual use of new vocabulary by up to 20% when we read and write. Get your older children library cards and make sure they make a habit of borrowing books.
Emphasize the importance of reading by limiting their TV time and having a reading session as a family.
When they identify new words, discuss them, and see how they use them. Keep a dictionary within an arm’s reach, but don’t turn every new word into research. If they see the fun in reading at a young age, they are more likely to continue as they grow older.
Truly, as the vocabulary increases, so do the feelings you express, things you can identify, and events you can describe. An extensive vocabulary will help your child have a more fulfilling life, which is all we wish for our children.
Put these tips to practice today, and they sure will pay life-long dividends.