Between eighteen months and three years, language development occurs at a very rapid rate that cannot be matched at any other time in life. In early infancy the coos your newborn makes quickly develop into more deliberate syllables, and only a few months later your infant has said his first word. The language skills learned during these first few years has a life long impact on learning and language development. As parents and caretakers, we have a special opportunity to nurture, guide and model appropriate language and vocabulary.
Researchers believe that children can learn upwards of ten new words a day if exposed to unfamiliar words consistently and frequently. This gain quickly helps a child stretch beyond the 3,000 conversational word bank adults use. Although is it estimated that the average adult knows upwards of 20,000 words, the majority of those words are not used in speaking, but in reading and writing, which is one reason why reading aloud to your child can be such a valuable way to influence and encourage a wide and deep vocabulary base, a lifelong necessity in reading and writing success.
Ways to Increase the Depth of Vocabulary During Reading Aloud
- Read to your child frequently and at length. Much of the vocabulary children gain come from purposeful exposure in reading.
- Allow your child to repeatedly have the same book read to him. This gives the parent or caretaker multiple opportunities to reinforce new words found in the text.
- Stop at difficult words and ask your child if she is familiar with that word. Does she already know the meaning? Has she heard of it before?
- Give child friendly definitions. They should be short and simple.
- Encourage your child to look at illustrations for word meanings.
- Read aloud books that are related by theme. This gives your child opportunities to see and hear specific words in multiple contexts.
- Encourage your child to retell stories, using new vocabulary
Ways to Increase the Depth of Vocabulary After Reading Aloud
- Ask your child to retell a familiar story and encourage the use of newly learned words.
- Write down stories your child tells, as he tells them, and read them back to him.
- Use newly used words when talking about familiar experiences.
- Change the wording of daily routines. For example, instead of saying, “It’s time to pack up,” consider saying, “It’s time to collect our things.”
- Have conversations with your child where you are an active participant. (Meaning, no more “uh-huh”s).
- Expose your child to intriguing words. Children love using sophisticated sounding words, so teach your child words like drenched, extensive, or conflict, in relation to circumstances that are already familiar.
Research indicates that children who acquire a wide and deep vocabulary are more capable of thinking deeply and expressing feelings. These children also have the ability to learn new things more quickly. They tend to have less difficulties learning to read and write, and actually tend to not only read above grade level, but also outperform their peers in many other subject areas. This indicates that when a child’s vocabulary is boosted early in life then later difficulties can be alleviated or completely avoided.
For similar articles by myself, Stay at Home Educator:Making the Most of Reading Aloud to Your Child Pre-Reading Skills: How to Prepare Your Child to Learn to Read Encouraging Emergent Literacy
For additional reading about vocabulary development:The Effects of Reading Nonfiction Aloud on the Vocabulary Acquisition of Middle-School Students by Patricia Ann Braun of National-Louis University Making the Very Most of Classroom Read-Alouds to Promote Comprehension and Vocabulary by Lana Edwards Santoro et. all
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Sarah is an educator and stay at home mom. She is the mother of a three year old boy, William, and an eighteen month old girl, Corinne. In addition to maintaining her blog, Stay At Home Educator, she currently runs a preschool co-op out of her home and teaches in the education department at The College of Idaho. Stay at Home Educator is about using educational research to be an intentional parent teacher. She can be followed via website, Facebook and Pinterest.
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