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10 Ways to Help Your Child Learn Vocabulary Words, Part V

Welcome to the final post in our five-part series of tips and suggestions for helping your child to learn and use new vocabulary.

We’ll wrap up our series with three final tips for parents like you who want to help your child develop a strong vocabulary — an important part of achieving overall academic success for Missouri’s public school students.

“Being on the lookout for words, finding out what they mean, engaging in wordplay, looking for multiple meanings and looking up words in the dictionary all support the acquisition a powerful vocabulary.”

8. Encouraging Journaling and Storytelling

The ultimate goal of vocabulary learning isn’t to just know the meanings of words, but to be able to use those words to communicate ideas, feelings, actions, objects, and order of events.

Journaling and storytelling help your child to practice each of these things. When your child keeps a journal, tells a story verbally or writes a story down, he or she is using vocabulary words in context.

Encourage your child to use storytelling or journaling to practice describing things using sizes, colors, and relationship to other objects (example: “the little blue train went through the big, dark tunnel”).

If your child enjoys sharing verbal stories with you, ask them questions that will inspire them to use words you’ve been studying together or that they’ve been studying at school.

Storytelling can be as creative or as realistic, as serious or as silly as you and your child wants it to be. From sharing true stories about your day at work or school, to making up imaginative tales of far away places and fairy tale creatures, storytelling and journaling are flexible tools that will help your child communicate using vocabulary.

9. Be Word Conscious

Word consciousness means two things.

First, it means playing an active role in your child’s education by knowing what words are part of your child’s vocabulary study in school. Remember that children — especially older children — will be assigned vocabulary words in subjects other than Language Arts. Be aware of any vocabulary you child has been asked to learn in social studies and science classes, as well.

Second, it means that you use a variety of words when you talk to your child. Listen to the way you speak now, and ask yourself if there are words that you say overly- often or words that you use incorrectly. Try to incorporate new words into your own vocabulary, and do your best to use words correctly. The example you set for your child is powerful, which leads us to our final recommendation in this five-part series.

10. Set a Good Example

You don’t have to be a writer, a librarian, or a schoolteacher to set a good example for your child. Using complete sentences, avoiding trendy abbreviations, and being aware of your own grammar and usage will each contribute to your child’s vocabulary development at home.

The limits of my language are the limits of my mind. All I know is what I have words for.
-Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951) Austrian-British philosopher.

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