By Julie Diamond
Words are empowering. Expanding your child’s vocabulary can help them express themselves more clearly, build better relationships and make sense of the world. How do we as parents help our children expand their vocabulary?
Read Together: Set aside 20 minutes a day to read with your child. Reading introduces your child to new words and the context of how the word can be used. Read aloud to your child even when they can read independently. This way you can build their vocabulary by choosing books that might be too difficult for them to read themselves. Also, make sure to read a wide range of books including: non-fiction, fiction, graphic novels, and newspapers so they are exposed to a variety of different words.
Label Objects Around the House: When your child is a beginner reader, label objects in your home to help them read new words. Try using adjectives as they develop their vocabulary by labelling it as ‘glass table.’
Don’t Use Baby Talk: Try not to oversimplify the way you speak to your child. While your child may not be using an extensive vocabulary yet, they are sponges and soak in their surroundings. A child understands much more than they articulate. Many need to hear a word several times before they really understand it.
Create a Word Wall: A word wall helps new words sink in. Write each new word on a sticky note and put it on a wall in their room. Use this in tandem with a Word of the Day to encourage them to try to use the word in their speaking or writing.
Positive Reinforcement: Encouraging your child gets them excited to learn. Making a big deal of new words that your child uses will get them excited.
How do you help your child with their vocabulary at home? Share your experiences below.
Julie Diamond is a certified teacher in Canada and the founder of Teachers to Go.
Julie Diamond speaking at the OISE conference for Alternative, Innovative and Inspiring Career Paths for Teachers at the University of Toronto.
Jenna Srigley is the administrative assistant/social media co-ordinator at Teachers to Go and offers invaluable insight as a mom of 2 teens.
Fun Fact: Her and Julie (see above) are also sisters :)