Building and expanding your child’s vocabulary is extremely important, not only to allow them articulate their needs, but also to help build a solid foundation for success in education and beyond. As a parent there are so many simple ways you can help your child develop their vocab range everyday and the input from you will play a vital role alongside their formal education.
I’ve put together 5 easy ways that you can give your child that little extra help that won’t zap hours of your already hectic schedule. They are that simple your child won’t even realise they are ‘learning’ as they don’t require a formal classroom style setting and are actually a lot of fun. I’ve used these tips with all three of my own children and have always been complimented on the maturity of their speech – in fact one such comment from a neighbour actually inspired this post! I hope they work for you as well as they have for us.
It sounds simple right? If you talk to your child their language will develop and it’s never too early to start. From the time they were born I have constantly filled my children’s ears with chatter. It doesn’t have to be readings from Shakespeare or even anything interesting! When the kids were small I spent my days telling them what I was doing; “Mummy’s going to fold the washing and then pop it in the drawers”, “We are having lasagne for tea tonight, do you like lasagne? It’s made with special pasta sheets!”.
You get the idea, just keep talking and telling them things (even the most mundane!), not only will it help with their range of words but they will be learning about the world around them too. It doesn’t have to stop as they get older either, although you may wish to make the topics a little more stimulating!
While talking is vital it’s equally important to challenge your child with questions. Set aside a time for talking and use the opportunity to ask you child about their day, encouraging them to describe what they have been doing; we find dinnertime the perfect opportunity as it’s the only time we are usually all in the same room! By asking questions you can utilise a range of vocab in your own language and questions as well as encourage your child to actively use their own word skills.
One of the favourite parts of my day is asking my son who is nearly 7 what the best bit of his day has been. This simple question not only offers a great insight into his day, but initiates further conversation, encouraging him to use his vocabulary plus also helps improve his recollection skills too.
Grab A Book
If you’ve read my blog before you’ll know how passionate I am about reading which just happens to be an amazing way to help your child expand their vocabulary. Like talking, it’s NEVER too early to share a book with your child; be it a cloth book to a full on chapter book. By reading to your child from an early age they will be exposed to a wide range of familiar and unknown words which they will absorb and store in their word bank for later use.
Likewise as they learn to read books independently it is vital that they read to you to enable you to explain any unfamiliar words and also to help improve their speech skills too. Once they start attending school they will be sent home regularly with reading books to share together, however I found it useful to read a range of books alongside this, fiction and non fiction, to help give the kids a real variety of new words to explore and learn.
Put Pen To Paper
It goes without saying that talking and reading go hand in hand with writing. Encouraging your child to put pen (or pencil) to paper is a great way to help them use the vocab they have learned and become more confident to use them in the correct way.
It doesn’t have to be an essay, in fact it may only be a few lines, but writing of any kind, even on a computer or tablet will help your child improve their vocab ten fold. Here are some fun, simple ideas to get your child writing:
- Write a postcard or letter to a friend or relative
- Start a daily diary
- Write a poem – Acrostic poems are a nice easy one even if they only have one word per line
- Send an email to a friend or relative
- Write a short story
What could be more fun than playing a game and learning at the same time? There are so many games and apps on the market that are designed to help your child develop their vocabulary and spelling, Some of our favourites over the years have been flashcards*, Match and Spell game* from Orchard games and of course everyone’s favourite Scrabble*.
Having said that don’t think you have to go out spending a fortune on board games or apps as you can easily create your own word games at home. The obvious one of course is the age old favourite hangman, you can adapt to draw a flower or a spaceman if like me a hanging man doesn’t quite seem appropriate to play with young children!
Another great idea is to make your own word flashcards using the high frequency words appropriate to your child’s age group. You can use them to test your child’s reading or why not make two matching sets and use them to play a game of snap or find a pair? I-spy is also a great game to evoke different words as well as good practice if you use phonics when choosing your letter.
It’s not just word games though that can help improve your child’s language skills as any game that is played as a family or in teams is certain to involve discussion of some sort whether it be strategy or questions about the rules – all of which will only help boost their vocab.