Tips for Expanding Your Child’s Vocabulary
The first ten years of a child’s life are very important in more than one way. When it comes to building up an active vocabulary too, these years are vital because the growing brain is at its receptive best to capture information and store it for future use. Furthermore, research has indicated that people having a greater vocabulary have greater chances of a better education or career. Thus, even as you hear you little one call out ‘MaMa’ or ‘PaPa’, you might want to take these 8 steps to enhance and enrich its vocabulary.
Tips for Expanding Your Child’s Vocabulary
1. Holding Conversations
Even in the infant stages, talking to the child is akin to sowing seeds in the soil – they will sprout at a future time. Growing babies should always be in a word-rich environment. As they get older, the parents should hold conversations with the little ones no matter how simplistic or repetitive.
2. Reading Out Stories
Stories are always a favorite for toddlers. Instead of simply narrating a story, it would be a good idea to read it out with all the necessary expressions and ‘special effects’. This way, he/she gets exposed to more words and also to the meanings which are conveyed through the expressions.
3. Introducing a New Language
Bringing in a second language for the toddler enhances the grasping and linking abilities. Children growing in bilingual or multilingual homes often fare much better in many comprehension and understanding abilities. No wonder that schools introduce a second language in the early grades.
4. Playing Games
Word games are a fun and effective way of enhancing the little one’s vocabulary. Keep the games as simple as finding a synonym, finding an antonym or word-building where the last letter of a word becomes the first letter of the next word. Add in rewards for a more successful experience.
5.Building a Healthy Learning Environment
Investments in time and energy on the part of the parents are vital. The family room or living room should be home to creative objects rather than just the computer, television and electronic gadgets. The environment at home should encourage conversation and speak with each other.
6. Using the Progression of Language-Learning to Advantage
Irrespective of the language, children first pick up the nouns. Then they learn the verbs and adjectives come last. Knowing this, the parent should adapt according to the stage. When it is nouns, it would help to pull out or point out objects and name them. Wrong usages must be corrected and any meaning sought should be promptly clarified.
7. Being Supportive
Encouraging the little one to speak more means that the parent should also be ready to listen along with speaking. Listening is as vital as speaking for a good vocabulary. Be patient with the toddler’s mistakes, as he is bound to make them. Listen to what he is saying and make him feel that he is being heard.
Television, modern electronic gadgets, the iPad games etc. could often become big distractions encouraging the use of the brain resources for unnecessary trash rather than useful learning. The child should be allowed to have a chance to develop its own images for the sounds it hears.
9. Let Your Child tell a Story
As much as it is important for him to listen to you speaking up new words, it is also important for you to give him a chance to speak. Ask him/her to make up a story of his/her own once in a while. You may decide the setting beforehand like include pirates, ghosts etc. You can also introduce new words through rhetorical questions eg- if your child says “it was very cold”, you may ask “was it the polar region?”. Introduce more words and give him a chance to use them and understand it’s meanings.
10. Label Household Items
Use post-it notes to label household items like bed, cup, salt and pepper shakers etc. This will be an excellent way to introduce your kids to new words and associate those words to the-the things that they represent. Sit with your child and spell these words correctly and pronounce them clearly, ask your child to do the same if he is of the age. This easily helps the child learn what is called what and is really helpful for young children.
11. Take Vocabulary-Building Seriously
If you really want to build up a strong vocabulary for your child, take the task seriously. If your child is curious about a word, look it up in the dictionary while sitting with him, clearly explain it’s meaning and use examples. If it is the word ‘gigantic’ you can say that as compared to a person, an elephant is big but as compared to an ant, an elephant is gigantic.
12. Be a Gentle Corrector
It is natural that the child will make mistakes.Be a gentle corrector. If he makes the mistake, again and again, correct him/her each and every time. Be patient with him/her . Explain the same thing to him a hundred times over if possible. Remember that he/she is learning and it is good to make mistakes. Making mistakes means that he/ she is trying.
13. Teach Conceptually Related Words
It is a good idea to not teach words individually, but to group them together as conceptually related like things on a farm, things in a village, houses, wild animals, domestic animals etc. It makes it easier for the child to remember and relate.Several research-tested techniques for teaching vocabulary are well suited to teaching groups of words.
14. Try Relating Old Words to New Words
Research on vocabulary learning suggests that teaching kids to relate new words to the words that they are already familiar with help in effective learning. If the child knows the words fruits and apple, it might help him to know the word grapes. Similarly, if the child knows the meaning of ‘being mad’ he may learn the words frustrated easier. This establishment of the relation between old and new words helps the child understand the meanings of the words better and even to remember synonyms.
15. Enjoy Words
A child learns faster if he is interested and motivated, which is a given, be it words or any other subject. Similarly, A child is more inclined to learn quicker if there is a push in the direction. We should strive to have an environment in which words are enjoyed, relished, celebrated, even loved.
16. Expose the Children to the Word
A child would remember the word clearly if he sees the meaning and the word three times or more than that, instead of once. He will remember it more if he hears it. But mostly, the word will be etched in his mind if he lives the word. Expose the child to situations in which he may have to use the word that he has learnt.
Making the child learn new words is a challenging task, one we are well aware of. Those little angels do not even sit still for a second, how do we even make them learn. But, they are wonderful little beings and are avid learners . It is just the right effort on our parts. The points above are to help you through it and we hope that they are helpful.