How to increase your child’s vocabulary

Learning a new language like English can be a challenge, but with regular study, it can be done. Classes are important, but so is disciplined practice. It can even be fun. Here are some guidelines to help you improve your reading and comprehension skills and become a better English student.

Study Every Day

Learning any new language is a time-consuming process, more than 300 hours by some estimates. Rather than try and cram a few hours of review once or twice a week, most experts say short, regular study sessions are more effective. As little as 30 minutes a day can help you improve your English skills over time.

Keep Things Fresh

Instead of focusing on one single task for the entire study session, try mixing things up. Study a little grammar, then do a short listening exercise, then perhaps read an article on the same topic. Don't do too much, 20 minutes on three different exercises is plenty. The variety will keep you engaged and make studying more fun.

Read, Watch, and Listen

Reading English-language newspapers and books, listening to music, or watching TV can also help you improve your written and verbal comprehension skills. By doing so repeatedly, you'll begin to unconsciously absorb things like pronunciation, speech patterns, accents, and grammar. Keep pen and paper handy and write down words you read or hear that are unfamiliar. Then, do some research to learn what those new words mean. Use them the next time you are role-playing dialogue in class.

Learn the Sounds Separately

Non-native English speakers sometimes struggle with certain word pronunciations because they do not have similar sounds in their native tongue. Likewise, two words may be spelled very similarly, yet be pronounced quite different (for instance, "tough" and "though"), or you may encounter combinations of letters where one of them is silent (for example, the K in "knife").

Watch Out for Homophones

Homophones are words that are pronounced the same way but are spelled differently and/or have different meanings. There are a number of homophones in the English language, which is one of the reasons why it can so challenging to learn. Consider this sentence: "Pack your clothes, then close the suitcase." Both "clothes" and "close" sound the same, but they are spelled differently and have different meanings.

Practice Your Prepositions

Even advanced students of English can struggle to learn prepositions, which are used to describe duration, position, direction, and relationships between objects. There are literally dozens of prepositions in the English language (some of the most common include “of,” “on,” and “for”) and few hard rules for when to use them. Instead, experts say, the best way to learn prepositions to memorize them and practice using them in sentences. Study lists such as this one are a good place to begin.

Play Vocabulary and Grammar Games

You can also improve your English skills by playing vocabulary games that are related to what you’re studying in class. For example, if you are going to study English on topics that focus on vacations, take a moment to think about your last trip and what you did. Make a list of all the words you might use to describe your activities.

You can play a similar game with grammar reviews. For example, if you are going to study conjugating verbs in the past tense, stop to think about what you did last weekend. Make a list of the verbs you use and review the various tenses. Don't be afraid to consult reference materials if you get stuck. These two exercises will help you prepare for class by making you think critically about vocabulary and usage.

Write It Down

Repetition is key as you’re learning English, and writing exercises are a great way to practice. Take 30 minutes at the end of class or study to write down what happened during your day. It doesn’t matter whether you use a computer or pen and paper. By making a habit of writing, you’ll find your reading and comprehension skills improve over time.

Once you’re comfortable writing about your day, challenge yourself and have some fun with creative writing exercises. Choose a photo from a book or magazine and describe it in a short paragraph, or write a short story or poem about someone you know well. You can also practice your letter-writing skills. You’ll have fun and become a better English student. You may even discover you’ve got a talent for writing.

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Vocabulary is one of the main components of the Primary School English syllabus. It is therefore important for you to expand your vocabulary if you are a primary school student.

Knowing a great variety of words is helpful when writing compositions too. Have you ever experienced situations when you wanted to say something but just could not find the right words to express yourself? It is frustrating, isn’t it?

To help students write better, we need to provide ways for them to increase the number of words in their ‘vocabulary library’.

We have prepared these 300 vocabulary cards for our students. These are words that students can use in their English compositions. They include phrases to describe characters’ feelings, as well as vivid verbs to describe actions.

CLICK TO DOWNLOAD THESE 300 FREE VOCABULARY CARDS

The following are a few practical ways for children to widen their range of vocabulary.

1. Read widely.

Reading is a wonderful way to expand your vocabulary. When you are reading, you will inevitably come across words and phrases that are new to you. The good thing about encountering such new words and phrases during reading is that you are able to learn their meaning in context. Most of the time, you will be able to guess the meaning of some of these new words and phrases, based on the context of the story.

2. Look up the meaning of new and unfamiliar words.

If you are not able to guess the meaning of new and unfamiliar words, it is always a good idea to check the dictionary. Whenever my own children come across words that are unfamiliar to them, I usually get them to look up the meaning in the dictionary.

A favourite online dictionary for children is the Learners’ Dictionary. What I like about this online dictionary is the simple definition provided. There is a section on Vocabulary too, where the editors have identified 3,000 core vocabulary for learners.

3. Use the new words you have learnt as soon as possible.

To retain the new words and phrases learnt, look for the soonest possible opportunity to use them. The more you use those new words, either in speech or writing, the easier it is to retain them.

4. Learn one or two new words or phrases a day.

A more direct way of expanding your vocabulary is to proactively learn one or two new words a day. You can get a vocabulary notebook or journal and write down one to two new words each day. Look up the meaning of those new words and form a sentence with each. If possible, use them in your writing or conversations during the day. You can get new words from story books you are reading or any vocabulary lists available. Print out this ‘Reading With A Purpose’ sheet to help you write down new words from the books you are reading.

5. Write more.

Writing forces you to put your thoughts into words. When you are writing, you have to look for the correct words and phrases to express yourself. This makes writing one of the most practical ways to use your vocabulary. Without a good range of vocabulary, your writing is limited.

Another useful exercise to do after writing, is to underline those words that you can replace. Think of another word that you can use instead. This challenges you to dig into your mental library of words for synonyms or less commonly used words. This leads us to the next point.

6. Use new words in your writing.

Now, when you are writing, do not just write with words that you are comfortable using. Explore new ways of expressing your thoughts and ideas. Ask yourself, “Is there a better way of expressing this? Is there a better word or phrase to use?” Constantly remind and challenge yourself to use the new words that you have learnt when you are writing.

For example, if you have always used the word ‘excited’, challenge yourself to use other words or phrases to describe excitement. How about ‘enthusiastic’, ‘exhilarated’ or ‘bright eyed and bushy tailed’?

Here is another example. If you have always used the word ‘delicious’ to describe food, challenge yourself to use a different word or description, such as, ‘sumptuous’, ‘savoury’ or ‘flavourful’.

Note that the words do not have to be bombastic or complicated. Very often, simple words can create vivid descriptions.

7. Use specific adjectives, verbs and nouns instead of general ones.

Make it a point to use specific words in your writing and speech. It is easy to use general terms as you do not have to put much thought to it. For example, it is effortless to describe something as ‘nice’. However, what do you mean by ‘nice’?

Using specific terms forces you to search in your library of words for the most suitable word or phrase.

For example, instead of describing a movie, cake or dress as ‘nice’, use specific adjectives, such as ‘a captivating movie’, ‘a beautifully-decorated cake’ or ‘a stunning or attractive dress’.

Besides adjectives, use specific verbs (or vivid verbs) to describe actions.

For example, instead of ‘Jack ate his lunch’, use a specific verb to describe the way he ate. Such as,

Jack gobbled up his lunch.

Jack nibbled at his lunch.

Jack swallowed his lunch.

Notice that each verb conveys a different meaning and paints a different image in the readers’ minds.

It takes effort to widen your range of vocabulary. However, the effort you put in is worthwhile when you see your storehouse of words growing by the day and your writing improving!

The learning and the proper understanding of vocabulary are important for a child so as to gain academic excellence. It helps a child to adapt ideas and think more logically. In addition, it also helps in boosting up the power of communication in a more engaging way. Therefore, the process of improvisation of your child’s vocabulary should be started at an early stage to create a lifelong love for reading and writing. It is good to increase slowly instead of being quick and forcing your kid to learn.

Introduce a new word each week

Introduce a new word each week and along with it describe the word in detail. For example, if you have introduced the word ‘shopkeeper’ to your child, then try to explain this word with the help of some practical examples and show your kid who is a shopkeeper, what does he/she do, how they are helpful to a society, etc. This will help your child to understand the correct usage of the word and will also interpret its correct meaning. Another tip is to use funny words, as this will add some extra enjoyment to the task of learning new words.

Remember, do not overdo it. Do not introduce too many words at a time as your kid may get confused and puzzled. For more advanced learners, you might want to introduce more difficult and unusual words, like xerothermic or these 12 words beginning with X.

Read the story aloud for your child

Reading aloud is one of the most effective ways of increasing vocabulary in a child. It not only increases the understanding but also enhances the communication in a child. Take the help of a picture book to demonstrate the correct usage of words. Picture books are usually bright in colours and hence catch the attention of a child. In addition to the reading aloud, it is good if you interact with your child too. You can ask them what they understood, and what they are seeing in the book, what does this picture mean, etc. You can also connect the story with your child’s activity so as to present a practical scenario. For example, if a picture shows ‘a child with a book’, then you can tell your child ‘‘as you are reading your favourite book, so as this boy too.’’

Allow your child to read book independently

Encourage your child to read their favourite book independently. Help them to pronounce any new word correctly and explain the meaning of that new word. Allow them to make mistakes while reading books as mistakes are important to be right. If your child is old enough to understand a child’s dictionary, then introduce the same and encourage them to use that too. Magazines, newspapers, storybooks, etc can be helpful if your child is interested to read. You can even take a look at these 5 techniques to encourage your child to read with no books involved.

Children who read more understand and use large vocabulary as compared to the kids who do not read.

Use activities

There are many learning-based activities available which you can take as a help to improve your child’s vocabulary. Games like Scrabble Jr., Upwords, crosswords for kids, etc. and many other mind games can be used to enhance their vocabulary skills. These games are so interesting that your child may not even realise that they are learning too while playing. Also they can help in increasing the thinking and concentrating power in a child. You can also use role-playing and these 8 image prompts games to encourage team work and improve communication skills.

Converse in a daily routine

It is good if you converse with your child while doing your daily activities. You can talk through your activities and encourage your child to participate in the conversation. When your child comes back from school then ask them about their day and encourage them to share their whereabouts and how their day was. This will help to reduce the hesitation which is usually there in a child unless he starts communicating with others.

Drawing

Drawing is helpful in many ways. In terms of improving vocabulary, drawing can do a miracle. It depicts the understanding level of a person whether it’s a child or an adult. Ask your child to draw a picture of a new word. For example, if you have introduced the word ‘play’ then according to you the image will be like two kids playing together, whereas for your child it can be simply a ball. Both imaginations conclude to the same word ‘play’. So you see drawing gives a clear understanding of a new term. Hence why drawing can be an effective way to improve your child’s vocabulary.

Correct mistakes with care

You may observe that your child is making mistakes while conversing and pronouncing new words. In this case, do not make fun of this or reprimand. Correct the mistakes gently and let them understand how this mistake can be avoided and what the correct usage can be. This will enhance the confidence in your child and will let them use the words correctly in the future. The gentler the correction, the more positive the results will be.

Be patient

While teaching and improving vocabulary, you may find that there is repetition of the same thing. However, you need to be patient as this situation is completely normal and fine. A child develops at its own pace, and there is no matter of taking the stress and losing hope. Therefore, be patient and energetic as this all takes time but the results are fruitful.

How to increase your child's vocabulary

Lives with a notion “Simple Living, High Thinking” and have an optimistic approach towards life. Always eager to learn new things. She is the founder of a Parenting website called Budding Star.

If you’re concerned about your child’s vocabulary, there are many at-home ways to boost it.

Kids who practice new words often do better with reading and at school.

Using new words and playing fun games can help your child learn more vocabulary.

There’s a strong connection between understanding words and understanding what you read. This means that kids who learn and think differently often do better at reading comprehension when they spend more time learning, practicing and understanding words.

Here are some at-home teaching methods to try that will improve your child’s vocabulary.

1. Describe the word.

Provide a description of each new word you introduce. For example, maybe you’re teaching your child the word merchant, which is common in upper elementary social studies textbooks. You can talk with your child about the local merchants in your town. What kinds of stores are in your town? What do they sell?

2. Say it your way.

Once you’ve described a new word, it helps to ask kids to come up with their own way to describe it. For example, after explaining how fortunate you are to have such a nice family, your son or daughter might explain how fortunate they feel to have the latest video game.

3. Act it out.

By acting out a word, your child is bound to better understand it. This may be particularly helpful if your child has lots of energy and loves to run around. The new word frolic, for example, can come alive through jumping around like a puppy, goat, or lamb. Why not bring the fun outdoors as well? Frolic in the garden, yard or along the sidewalk.

4. Quick draw.

Get some pencils and paper. Without using actual words, draw a quick sketch of what the new word is. For the word, reluctant, you might decide to represent it by drawing a person standing at the edge of swimming pool with only one toe in the water. Your child, who is reluctant to eat vegetables, might draw a big bowl of broccoli and a frown face next to it.

5. Analyze this.

Teach your child the meanings of common prefixes, suffixes and root words . For example, the prefix multi- means many and the suffix –less means not or without. Geo is a root word that means earth, as in geology. Recognizing these patterns will help your child with word meanings and understanding.

6. Write a story.

Using a list of new words, ask your child to be an author and write a story. In order to do this well, your child will need to use all of the words correctly. Bringing words together into story-form from a list will take imagination. Encourage your child to be creative and have fun.

7. Tell me once, tell me twice…

Use the new word all the time. So, if the word is essential, you might talk about what is essential to pack for a camping trip or have a discussion about what is essential for happiness. A checklist of essential chores might help remind your child to walk the dog, do homework and set the table before dinner.

Key Takeaways

Drawing, acting out and writing stories will boost your child’s ability to understand and retain new words.

Practice the words over and over and use them all the time around the house.

Encourage your child to describe words when prompted and tell you about them.

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About the Author

About the Author

Ginny Osewalt is a dually certified elementary and special education teacher with more than 15 years of experience in general education, inclusion, resource room, and self-contained settings.

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How to increase your child's vocabulary

Academic writers are expected (maybe, unfairly) to have a larger vocabulary than those outside their field of expertise. Publishers often have restrictions on the number of pages or words allowed in a submitted manuscript; therefore, when you draft your research paper for submission to a respected journal, you must present your findings as clearly and concisely as possible. A good command of vocabulary can help you to do so.

Since most journals publish in English for an international audience, expanding your English vocabulary is particularly important to write an effective manuscript.

Benefits

There are several benefits of an expanded repertoire of words. An improved vocabulary helps you:

  • Say what you mean: Overuse of some adjectives can diminish the importance of your message. A broader range of choices helps you to be more explicit so that the reader better understands what you are trying to say.
  • Understand others: The more words you learn, the more you can connect with others. In the science disciplines, there are technical terms with which many are not familiar. Learning as many as possible will not only help you be more connected with your colleagues, but also with your own doctors, lawyers, and other professionals.
  • Understand what you read: Obviously, the more words you know, the less will be unfamiliar to you.
  • Become more informed: This practice can help you to not only understand new words but also enable you to respond effectively.
  • Think more clearly and logically: More tools you have in your “box of words,” will help you to communicate your ideas in a better way.
  • To communicate effectively: Repeating the same adjectives or descriptive words tend to bore your audience and thus decrease their attention.
  • To persuade: To persuade people, you must be able to communicate to all levels of your audience so that everyone is in tune with what you are presenting.
  • To make a good impression: Confident communication and public speaking can make lasting impressions.

Steps to Expanding Your Vocabulary

So, what do you need to do to increase your vocabulary? It is not difficult and can even be fun. The following steps can help you to enhance your vocabulary

1. Read as much as you can: Reading novels, magazines, and other print material will introduce you to new words.

2. Use helpful tools: Tools such as the dictionary and thesaurus can be very helpful when encountering an unfamiliar word. They define the word and provide its origin or “root”. This information is a great help in not only remembering that particular word but also in understanding the meanings of other words with the same root.

3. Maintain a journal of new words: A list of new words reinforces those words in your memory and encourages you to expand the list.

4. Learn a new word every day: There are tricks to learning a new word each day. Notice new words when you read or communicate.

5. Word’s roots: Most English words originate from either Latin or Greek. As mentioned above, learning roots of words can help in not only remembering them but also defining new ones.

6. Fun games: When relaxing, try doing crossword puzzles or other word games in print, and play word games with others from time to time.

7. Talk, talk, talk: Discussing things with other people can provide you with new words and phrases, especially when different dialects and native languages are used. Write down any words from a conversation that is unfamiliar to you and look them up later.

8. Practice, practice, practice: You must continue to use new words that you’ve learned to ensure that they are kept in your memory.

Tools

The following tools and websites will help you build your vocabulary.

  • Online “word of the day” provides the word, its meaning, and use in a sentence. provides the ability to question a word, its root, and its meaning.
  • Dictionary is a standard reference book for everyone. It provides the meaning, root, English pronunciation, sentence use, synonyms, and other information. Dictionaries are available in both hardcopy and online.
  • A thesaurus is simply a dictionary of synonyms and antonyms. It is extremely helpful when trying to find the correct word and not overuse the same words. It is also available in both hardcopy and online. is another online source of terms that cover many scientific disciplines.
  • Improving Vocabulary offers many ways of improving vocabulary by providing helpful links to other sites with instructional formats and games. uses the dictionary combined with puzzles and games.

These are just a few that are available to you. Once you enter some of these websites, you’ll find links to many other resources that can help you build your vocabulary. Take the time to investigate them.

As your child grows up, your sassy threenager suddenly has a huge repertoire of words and something to say about everything. And by the time your child hits their pre-primary years, the rest is history.

While your chatty little boss may leave you tearing your hair out at times, (we’ve all been there) their rapidly increasing vocabulary is a positive sign. And now more than ever, a child’s competency in communication is of paramount importance. Being a confident and articulate speaker makes all the difference in the opportunities that will come to your child’s way, be it in school or in their future.

5 Reasons Vocabulary Benefits Your Child

The Power of Communication. The wider their vocabulary, the more explicit your child will be at communicating their needs and wants. Through the power of words, they will be able to share their ideas and opinions.

The Ability to Understand. Vocabulary is the most fundamental unit of comprehension. So when your child’s vocabulary is limited, it causes gaps in their understanding of what they read or hear.

Logic. The wider your child’s vocabulary is, the higher the chances they will be able to interpret and express ideas and concepts.

Persuasive Power. A rich vocabulary is tied to being a more persuasive and engaging speaker. Imagine giving your child this power! 1

It’s All about Impressions. An eloquent speaker forms a lasting impression. There’s no denying that fact.

VOCABULARY MILESTONES

Vocabulary development is not magic. And it doesn’t happen overnight. But before we discuss some tips to help you build your child’s vocabulary, here’s what you should be expecting from the age of one to six.

One Year Old: Mama, Dada!

Most children speak their first words shortly after turning 1. 2 They usually start with simple words such as “mama” or “dada” to name people or objects.

Toddlers have barely 10 words when they are one year old, to about 50 words when they are between 18 and 24 months. Children tend to experience a “word spurt” after their first 50 words. 2 By this time, they are also able to understand and follow simple directions, familiar name objects and body parts. They may also form two to three-word sentences like “Mama car?” or “I want milk.”

Two-Year-Old: Dog, Cat, Dinosaur

Children’s vocabulary starts expanding at this stage, and they have around 200 to 300 words that they are familiar with. 3 You will be hearing many nouns at this stage – dog, cat, banana, cookie. They also start saying, “thank you” “sorry” and “all gone”. Generally, these are words that they frequently use as they interact with the world around them.

Three-Year-Old: Happy. Angry!

They don’t call them threenagers for nothing. At this age, they’re well capable of talking back to you, and their vocabulary has increased significantly.

Expect your child’s vocabulary to triple to about 900 to 1000 words at this stage. 3 Three-year-olds are also able to string together simple sentences. You can expect more connecting words such as “if”, “and”, “because”, more numbers and names of categories such as “vegetables” and “animals”. They should also be identifying simple emotions such as “happy”, “sad” and “angry”.

Four-Year-Old: I Don’t Know

Typically, four-year-olds have a 1,500 to 1,600-word vocabulary. 3 You can expect more complex emotions like “confused” “upset” and “delighted” and also more connecting words such as “when” and “but”. 4 They have a better sense of direction and many more prepositions in their sentences. They are also able to verbalize what’s going on in their head by telling you “I don’t know,” or “I can’t remember.” Yes, at this stage, sentences are getting increasingly complex.

Five to Six-Year-Old: To Infinity and Beyond

Around this age, your child will be a kindergartener and have an expressive vocabulary of anywhere between 2,000 to 3,000 words. 4 Meanwhile, their receptive vocabulary (words they understand) will be about 20,000 to 24,000 words. 3 They understand alliteration and rhymes and are able to read and write. They can also easily form sentences with six words or more.

Now that you know what to expect, here are some activities for you to build your child’s vocabulary.

How to Build Your Child’s Vocabulary

Read, Read and Read

This is a given, and it is almost impossible to overemphasise its importance. Expose your child to plenty of reading materials. The more they read, the wider their vocabulary will be. Read with them as well, and encourage them to pay attention to new or unfamiliar words.

Sensory Play

Engage in sensory play such as playing in a sandbox, making dough, exploring the texture, and so on. As you engage in the play, you and your child can describe what you see, feel, hear, taste and smell 5 and you’ll be amazed at how rapidly your child adds sensory words to her/his vocabulary!

Explore!

A little bit of adventure is good for everyone, so take your child out to explore nature. Take them to beaches, parks, rivers, wherever you please. Talk about everything you see, hear and experience. Your child will be excited and have lots to say. Extend this activity by following up your little outing with a book that is related to it.

Dinnertime Conversations

Make dinnertime more meaningful by making it a vocabulary building time as well. For starters, you can ask your child questions about her day. Ask them to tell you whom they played with, what they had for lunch, what their teacher wore, what books they read at the library, and so on. As they describe their day, you can use descriptive words and phrases to substitute the simpler ones that they use. In no time, they will be repeating after you!

Retelling Stories

After you’ve established a reading routine, every now and then, put the book down and ask your child to either retell the story in their own words or to create their own story altogether. Along the way, ask questions to introduce new words and concepts. When you force them to articulate their ideas, it works wonders in reaching for new words!

Along with engaging your child in these activities, it’s also important that you ensure they have sufficient rest and good nutrition.

So go all out and help your children to build a solid vocabulary. It’s one of the best gifts you can give them!

Reference

“Disclaimer: All reasonable steps have been taken to ensure the accuracy of the published Material (“Material”), however the Material shall not be treated as medical advice in any manner. The Material is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a qualified doctor for any form of medical advice and guidance. The Material is published without warranty of any kind, either expressed or implied. The responsibility for the interpretation and use of the Material lies with the reader. In no event shall Reckitt Benckiser (India) Private Limited or its affiliates be liable for any damages or any other consequence arising from the use of the Material. The Material is for non-commercial and non-profitable use only.”

How to increase your child's vocabulary

Does your child’s writing seem uninspired, boring, or repetitive? It could boil down to vocabulary! Give them a boost by helping them improve word choices. Here are some painless ways to increase your child’s vocabulary.

1. Be a Writing Role Model

You’ve heard that if you want your kids to become readers, they need to see you reading. Likewise, to raise writers, make sure they see you writing. When you give your children a writing assignment, why not stop to write alongside them?

  • Draw attention to your writing. Point out times that you use writing to communicate with others.
  • Talk about writing opportunities. Explain the purpose for each kind of writing and the target audience, handwriting vs. computer, etc.
  • Let your child see you prepare for a Bible study, keep a gratitude journal, or take notes during church.
  • Have your child help you write thank-you notes and letters, even such routine ones as ordering items from an advertisement or writing a letter of praise or complaint to a company. This helps the child to see firsthand that writing is important to adults and truly useful.
  • Take time to write in your journals together. If you need inspiration, here are 101 journal-writing ideas to get you started. !

2. Assign Copywork

Copywork has so many benefits, including providing students with excellent writing models. You can use various copywork passages as opportunities to look up unfamiliar words, which is a great way to naturally expand your children’s vocabulary.

You can purchase a resource specifically intended for the purpose of copying. Or simply encourage copying Bible verses, hymns, favorite poems, passages of literature, or famous quotations.

3. Make Lists

Making lists is an effective writing tool for all ages—and one of the ways to increase your child’s vocabulary. Most kids like to create lists anyway, but writing out lists—from the mundane to the meaningful—also helps them become more organized. Taken a step further, when list-making is used as a brainstorming tool, it can even help them plan the elements of a story or essay. And it’s a great way to build context-specific vocabulary.

  • Show them how you keep a calendar, make grocery lists, write daily to-do lists, add to an ongoing list of projects, etc. Then your kids can make their own lists of schoolwork, dates for soccer practice and games, family birthdays, etc.
  • Ask them to inventory furniture in a room or items in a junk drawer, jewelry box, or medicine cabinet. Talk about different ways to name common objects.
  • Invite them to make lists of their various personal possessions such as baseball cards, stuffed animals, shoes, or CDs. Collections, such as seashells or Matchbox cars, often have specific or specialized names. Learning these helps contribute to vocabulary growth.
  • Help them create word lists. These can be specific (word bank about nature), or general (list of adjectives that add sparkle to dull writing). For example, kids can make a list of texture words such as rough or slippery, or character qualities such as gentle, brave, or faithful. Then, let them use a thesaurus [aff] to lookupsynonyms for that word to expand the list … and grow their writing vocabulary!

Looking for more ways to increase your child’s vocabulary? Try these:

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How to increase your child's vocabulary

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How to increase your child's vocabulary Written by Kristin Couture

Table of Contents

Why do I love teaching vocabulary?

Because so many kids, at first, DO NOT LOVE IT. And when this happens, I find it my personal goal, as a teacher, to make a dreaded skill come to life and have meaning ! I believe that it is important to improve your child’s vocabulary because it leads to strong reading comprehension and overall success in school.

I also believe in making learning fun. The more kids are motivated by fun and engaging curriculum , the more likely they are to grow and learn.

Why is improving my child’s vocabulary so important?

Research shows that children who read more often have larger vocabularies and will do much better in school. (NIH)

  • Learning vocabulary will boost comprehension of what kids are reading.
  • Learning vocabulary will improve speaking skills.
  • Learning vocabulary will increase kids decoding skills and reading skills in general.

Will improving my child’s vocabulary help them with math?

There is a type of vocabulary called “Tier 2” words that are intended to reach across content areas in the education world.

When kids have a foundational understanding of these words they can focus more on the math problem than spending time on figuring out what the question means.

Tier 2 Word: Determine

In Math, this looks like : Nico has 32 socks to fold into pairs. Determine how many socks he can make. (This is a division problem using the tier 2 word “determine”.

In Language Arts this looks like: Based on the details of the article, determine the main idea.

8 tips to improve your child’s vocabulary

See it. Say it. Write it.

With a list of words, have your learner look or find the word, and point to it.

Have them say the new word aloud

Have them write it down and spell it out as they write

*Rainbow writing is fun for younger kiddos (trace the word in each color – see picture below)

How to increase your child's vocabulary

Have your learner write the word

Then, ask: “What does this word remind you of?”

Have them draw an image that connects to the word.

Have a letter or word of the week (pick a sight word or new vocabulary word)

When outside or in public make connections to that letter or word

“What do you see out the window that starts with the letter “B” ?

“Since we are going for a hike, what do you determine are the best types of shoes to wear?

“Which sight word do you see on that sign?”

Multiple Meanings (Homonyms)

The fun part about the English language is that there are many words that have different meanings but are spelled the same! It can also be the most confusing part.

So how do we know which meaning someone is talking about?

We have to use context to figure out the meaning. Using the context (or words around the vocabulary word) of a sentence is key to understanding which meaning of a word is being used. Kids can also use their prior knowledge to help them figure out the correct meaning.

Sentence 1: The bark of the tree is brown.

Sentence 2: The bark of the dog next door is loud.

Explained: The meaning of bark is dependent on other words in the sentence and prior knowledge. Bark can be in connection with the prior knowledge of trees, or the prior knowledge of dogs.

Teach prefixes and root-word meanings

Helping kids understand the meaning of prefixes and root words will aid in their understanding of many words at once!

Prefix = beginning of word

Root = main part (can be at the beginning, middle or end)

Suffix = end of word

Meaning: again or back

Re peat = to do again

Re wind = wind back to beginning

Re visit = to come back or visit again

Re turn = go back to a place

Meaning: to hear

Aud ible = able to be heard

Appl aud = show approval through clapping

Aud ition = perform practical demonstration

Aud iobook = reproduced sound

Knowing the meaning of a prefix or root can help kids understand bigger words . They may not know the whole meaning but it will give them some idea and they will not skip it all together.

Teach the vocabulary words before you read:

Skim the book for 3-4 words your child might struggle with

Ask: “What do you think this word means? What does it remind you of?”

Tell: “This word means _______.” (Tell them what the word means directly).

Why is this important?

Teaching vocabulary before reading is very helpful as it builds background knowledge for better reading comprehension. Kids will connect the new vocabulary words to concepts they are already familiar with and make those connections as they read. This gives them confidence to keep reading and learning new words.

Re-read the same books (fiction or nonfiction)

Pick a short fiction or non-fiction book that you have read together before

As you read, point out the words or see if they can find them

* This works great with Kindergarten/1st grade sight words

Why is this important?

My young kids love to re-read the same book over and over. At first, I wanted them to try new books, but I have found that they grow more confident in their reading the more they see the same words, pictures and story line.

Turn learning vocabulary into a game, give points, and rewards!

Who can use the word of the week the most this week? Earn 1 point each time you use it correctly!

Opposite Game/Same Game: List 5 things opposite of the word of the week/List 5 words that mean the same thing! Go!

Word games such as Scrabble, Scrabble Jr., Upwords, Boggle, Boggle Jr. and Bananagrams, Headbands

Help your preschooler learn new words to establish early reading skills

Andrea Rice is an award-winning journalist and a freelance writer, editor, and fact checker specializing in health and wellness.

Before a child can learn to read, they need to have a good, well-rounded understanding of basic words and what they mean. And while that may sound a bit overwhelming, there are very easy ways that you can build a preschooler’s vocabulary and introduce early reading concepts. In fact, you probably do a whole lot of them normally, throughout the course of your day or week without even noticing it.

From reading aloud to your preschooler to simply engaging in conversation, you are helping your little one learn words—how they work, what they mean, how they are the same, how they are different and much more.

Parents can help with language skills even when their child has speech delays.   In fact, the more that parents do to help children overcome challenges, the better prepared the child will be for kindergarten.

Parents of children with disorders such as autism, apraxia of speech, and stuttering issues may want to consult with a speech therapist before getting started.   Often, therapists can recommend effective techniques for building spoken and receptive language skills.

Here are some easy and fun vocabulary-building activities that you can do every day that will help you teach your child new words.

Visit the Library

How to increase your child's vocabulary

JGI / Tom Grill / Blend Images / Getty Images

If you are looking for a great place to start building your preschooler's vocabulary and early reading skills, look no further than your local library. Research shows a strong correlation between library use and literacy-building skills in young children.   If you aren't sure what to do when you get there, ask your librarian for help.

Just being around a place where there are a lot of books and literary references will go a long way to helping your preschooler feel comfortable about reading.

Children's libraries often have fun and engaging events and activities for young children, which will expose them to new words and give them an opportunity to socialize.