It is common knowledge that a large vocabulary leads to increased intelligence. And, since the use of language begins in childhood, why not teach your children to enjoy learning and using new words?
I have always found pleasure in teaching new vocabulary to children of all ages. They generally balk at the mention of learning new words, it sounds too much like work, but once they realize they can use these new words to impress their friends, they generally get into the spirit of it.
Parents, it’s easy to make an ongoing activity of helping children learn and apply new vocabulary. Create a game for your family where each member listens or looks for one new word each week. (Search Google for word of the day sites if your children start off reluctant to play.)
At dinnertime, in the carpool line, or on the way to a sports event, family members can introduce their chosen word. The word should be pronounced and used in a sentence as a way of having family members guess the meaning. Once the meaning has been guessed, go one-step future and have family members practice the word by finding ways to use it in conversations throughout the week. Applying the new word helps children to recall it’s meaning over time.
If your children are young, there is an easier form of this activity you can play. Simply, introduce a “word of the week” on Monday. Pronounce the word, tell it’s meaning and use it in several sentences. Then ask children to find ways to use this word each day.
Granted in either game, not all words will be remembered over time. But some of the words will “stick” and become part of the way your child communicates. This game is a means of helping children feel smarter while offering your family a positive and unique way to bond.
Two of my favorite books for increasing the vocabulary of children are The Weighty Word Book and Weighty Words, Too. I used both these books in my years in the classroom. I also like giving them to young people as gifts. They are non-intimidating, colorful, short story books that teach new vocabulary in the most clever way imaginable. These short stories are written to be mnemonic devices that help children remember meaning and pronunciation of new words.
If you have a reluctant reader, buy one of these books and read a few of the stories together. It is likely your child will begin to read these entertaining stories independently. But beware you could soon be hearing some hundred-dollar words being tried out on you.
Parents, in order for children to thrive in school, it’s important that they feel successful and smart. Learning new vocabulary is one simple, easy way you can help your child grow academically.