There is no denying the fact that early literacy is one of the best predictors of future academic success. And what really influences these skills is a child’s vocabulary. It does make sense! After all, it is the language that helps us understand and communicate. Remember Dr. Seuss famous quote:
What makes language rich is vocabulary i.e understanding and knowledge of words. A rich vocabulary ensures faster processing and interpretation of information. Thus, it is only essential that parents work with their children augment their word bank. Here are some simple, easy techniques to do just that:
1. Read: This is the most elementary way to build. Reading to your child opens the doors to the world on words. Don’t mind if they ask you re-read the same book. Rather take it as an opportunity and stop midway a sentence for them to finish it for you. This helps children in memorizing words and making connections. Introduce them to the magic of poetry. Poems are great for younger children as the rhythm makes it easier for the child to remember words.
2. Pep-up your conversations: When talking to your child, talk to her as you would talk to an adult. Use phrases and words which might be alien to her but can be interpreted. Allow her to question the meaning of those words and exemplify them. A rich conversation would expose them to a variety of words and thus help them expand their vocabulary. Use adjectives to describe a daily objects. Add synonyms, antonyms to your conversations to make it affluent.
3. Label things: Be it a trip to the supermarket or a play area, label items for your child. This is a superb way to teach young children new words. And don’t be astonished if you too end up learning new words in this process.
4. Build word sense: By word sense, we mean prefix, suffix, root words and compound words. Help your child understand these and encourage them to break compound words. For instance, tell your child that ‘tri’ denotes number 3. Ask him to think of some words which have ‘tri’ as suffix, like a triangle, tripod, tricycle etc. Once we understand these concepts, it is relatively easy to make sense out of new words.
5. Play Word Games: Simple word games like Scrabble, Boggle, Pictionary go a long way in supplementing a child’s vocabulary. When playing these games try to introduce new words. You can make your own word games like word antakshari, let’s rhyme, Lego words to encourage word building and exploration.
6. Let their Creativity Flow: Allow them to tell stories, restate their observations. When children are encouraged to think creatively, they are bound to use new words, expression to give their thoughts meaning. All this influence their language and helps them mind search words they have heard before.
7. Invest in Children’s Dictionary: Invest your money and time is buying a good children’s dictionary. Most dictionaries catering to young children are illustrated. Illustrations help grab their attention and also allow them to look for words easily. Supplement your reading routine with dictionary. Allow your child to browse through it and look for images and words that interest her.
8. Give Time: This is perhaps most important. Children need time to learn new words. Reiteration is the only way to get a new word absorbed into their vocabulary. Meanwhile, parents should be patient and not snub their child for not remembering previously taught words. A simple way to prevent this is taking one word at a time and using it frequently over the course of the week till it is set it your child’s memory.
All children are different and parents should be mindful about it. Comparison with a peer or a sibling will take away the pleasure from enhancing vocabulary and make the entire process appear as a way of ‘evaluation’. Remember, learning that comes with fun and joy is the best.
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