Want to give your children a major learning advantage? (Of course! Who doesn’t?!)
Help them build their vocabulary! Kids with a large vocabulary understand more of what they read and hear. So big vocabulary=big learning! Exploring new words on a regular basis is one of the best ways parents can support learning at home.
Try these classroom-tested vocabulary building tips with your kids at home:
- Notice new words when you’re reading or listening. Talk about the importance of a large vocabulary and make an effort to learn new words.
- Talk about what to do when we discover unknown words. (Hint: Don’t just skip them.) Try using context clues or use another resource to find the meaning. Teach kids to locate words in the dictionary or use an online resource…
- But focus on kid-friendly definitions and examples of new words rather than complicated dictionary-style definitions. (Note to parents and teachers: Please don’t make kids look up long lists of words in the dictionary and copy long definitions. I remember doing that monotonous task as a kid, and it did NOT inspire a love of vocabulary.)
- Keep track of the words you know. List them. Categorize them. Play games with them. Revisit them. Kids often need multiple exposures to words in order to really learn them.
- Focus on learning the right kinds of words. Pick words that are more complex or descriptive versions of common words that kids already know. (For example, descriptive adjectives and verbs.) Also, focus on technical words kids need in order to understand a concept or a task that they are currently learning about.
- Learn common roots, prefixes and suffixes to SUPER SIZE vocabulary knowledge. When you learn one word part, you’ll begin to easily recognize many more words with the same word parts.
- Interact with the words in some way. Draw their meaning. Act them out. Make them come alive so you’ll remember them.
- Try to find concrete examples of new words whenever possible to make meaning more clear.
- Relate words to real life experiences. Make them meaningful and make connections with new vocabulary.
- Read. A lot! Read all sorts of books, signs on the wall, directions, recipes… A wide variety of reading material will expose kids to a wide variety of new words.
Also, if your kids love word searches as much as mine do, check out this set of 12 word searches focusing on common root words. On each page, kids read the definitions of five related words and determine what they all have in common. (Each word shares the same root word, or relates to the meaning of the root word in some way.) Then they unscramble the words, and find them in the word search puzzle.
And here are a few more great vocabulary learning resources:
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