Words are the foundation of understanding and communication. We talk to our children from the moment they are born. Sometimes, we talk to our children before they’re born. How do we help them use language the best way they can? Kids learn speech by listening to the people around them, reading, and observing.
Vocabulary Building: Pre-Kindergarten
There are many fun ways we can help our children learn new vocabulary. Reading with our children from birth teaches them the value of words and stories. Immediately, they begin to recognize tones and word patterns even though they won’t start using those patterns themselves for several months. Reading with babies also begins a wonderful pattern of parent-children time. Everybody loves a good story.
Remember, children are like sponges. The more information you give them, the more they soak up. Children love to learn. They learn through play. I taught my children the difference between startled and scared by using the words differently. When we would play peek-a-boo or they would surprise me, I would say, “Oh! You startled me!” I would then laugh and give them hugs. When they did something dangerous, like running toward the street, I would tell them, “You scared me! I was afraid you would get hurt!” The first time my oldest child, then three years old, told a group of children in play that they startled him, the adults in the group came to me astonished. They had never heard someone so young use that word. They were startled that he was “startled,” not scared.
Fun Activities to Build Vocabulary
Just like reading stories teaches children the value and power of words, making up stories with them builds creativity and vocabulary. Play a game where you start a story and your child continues it. If you have more than one child, everyone can play. Take turns. For example, “I was walking down the street when a talking bunny said, ‘Hi!’” Now it’s your child’s turn to add something to the story. Let the story go anywhere it takes you.
Be sure to ask your children to tell you about their days – every day. Sometimes a child will not be able to think of the right word to describe something. Sometimes a child cannot describe a feeling. This is a wonderful chance for you to teach your child new feelings words.
Look for new ways to use words in new situations. Teach children to see pictures in the clouds and learn how to describe them. Sometimes a child wants to compare a cloud to a bunny or a snowball. Enjoy the comparison. Find other comparisons. My children often find dogs, dragons, and favorite cartoon characters in the clouds. This helps their imaginations and their expression.
Once you’ve started a story or found pictures in the clouds, find new ways to describe them. “That bunny cloud has enormous ears!” Now you get to tell your child that enormous means REALLY, REALLY BIG. It will be fun the first time you hear your four-year old tell a favorite aunt about the enormous ears on the bunny cloud.
Make vocabulary building fun. When words are fun, learning becomes more fun. Words open the world of discovery.
Integrated Learning Strategies is a Utah-based center dedicated to helping mainstream children and children with learning disabilities achieve academic success. Our services provide kids with non-traditional tutoring programs within the Davis County, Kaysville, Layton, Syracuse, Farmington, and Centerville areas. Areas to find Integrated Learning Strategies include: Reading tutors in Kaysville, Math tutors in Kaysville, Common Core Tutors in Kaysville, Tutors in Utah, Utah Tutoring Programs