Why do some pieces of writing stay with us longer than the others? Why do some speakers etch their little niche inside our heart with their passionate speeches? One of the main reasons for this is their wonderful vocabulary. The ability to use the right word to express the right emotion or description or fact is indeed a much sought after asset in this digital age where everyone has a platform to air their views on simply everything ranging from their favourite dog breed to the El Nino effect that is causing failed winters. As a parent, you must have wondered what it is that some wonderful parents do that give their children that enviably large vocabulary. Sweat not, folks!
Here are some time-tested ways to improve your little one’s vocabulary and set them off on an interesting journey of self-expression:
Conversing With Your Child
The simplest trick in the book is to talk to your child. Children absorb things from their environment like little sponges. Tell them how cozy the bed is when you are making the sheets or tell them how clean and fresh the laundry smells when you are airing the clothes in the sun. The more you talk to them, the more words they will learn at breakneck speed!
The Habit of Reading
Rather than books that are simply informative, choose well illustrated and engaging books which weave learning into the fabric of a captivating story. This will keep your tiny tot engaged as well as updated with new words and phrases.
Also remember that words learned in context are far easier to remember than words learned for the sake of learning. So it makes more sense for better recall to come across a word in a conversation or a story than learn a few words a day from a book.
Visits to the Library
Make a weekly ritual of going to the library and choosing a book to read. Later, discuss with them their views on the books they read. With each book, you will see their vocabulary expand. Gently guide them through different genres like classics, period novels, and contemporary literature to help them appreciate the vastness of the English language.
Start with books which are engaging and then move on to books that are more educative. The reading habit is one of the greatest gifts you can ever give your child. This isn’t just from the view point of learning new words but from a holistic hobby that can fill their hearts with so much simple joy between the walls of a good book.
Update Your Own Vocabulary
Children of parents who have a superior vocabulary tend to develop a great vocabulary themselves. No, it isn’t genes. It’s the constant exposure to a lot of words. So if you want your child to have a vast and varied vocabulary, learn a few words a week yourself.
Use them when the context is appropriate and watch your kids pick it up from you. A good vocabulary is not a one-time achievement but a continuous process of learning. So if you have a good vocabulary yourself, you must already be subconsciously picking up new words every day by the books you read, and the shows you watch.
Consciousness about Words
More than ensuring that your child is learning,periodically inculcate in your child a curiosity which will make them convert every experience they have into learning. Help them understand how words have a root, their etymological structure and how many other words belong to that same word family. Talk about how some words have consonants and other sounds silent while some other words have sounds for which the appropriate letter is amiss in the spelling.
Many word roots have stories that are historic in nature like the word ‘salary’ which is derived from the word ‘salarium’ which is the Latin word for salt. This is because Roman soldiers used to receive their wages in salt. Such trivia are interesting to learn and are sure to aid them in recalling the word.
Word Games and Activities
When you’ve got time to kill, encourage open debates and questions– like the origin of a word. Or the opposite of something.Or the collective noun for pigs. An open culture of asking questions, pandering to curiosity leads to great learning. Play games like scrabble, boggle, crossword, hangman, and twenty questions. All these games will fill their mind with new words, lateral thoughts, and wonderful memories.
Encourage them to express their thoughts in the form of articles, product reviews and the like thereby inculcating in them the desire to better express themselves. Subscribe to interesting children’s magazines, engage in storytelling sessions with them and ponder over the concept of homonymsby the fireplace amidst long wintery evenings.
Keep a dictionary handy and keep new words active
Keep a good dictionary in your living room and encourage the practice of opening it to look up a new word.Start with a dictionary that is easy to handle and upgrade to more comprehensive ones as your children grow older. But insist on them opening the dictionary and finding the word they want to learn the meaning for. Many times, we open the dictionary to look up a word and end up learning a couple more. So facilitate this serendipity for your children.
Discuss the word together as a family and relate it to shared contexts. This will aid better recall and a sense of collective pride in learning something new.
Whenever you learn something together, you tend to strengthen the bonds you share with your child as well as help your child bookmark what they learn into a memory which will help them recall what they learnt, better.
A good vocabulary leads to better self-expression
In a world where the competition is like surviving in shark infested waters, there is a need for children to strive to be better than the best. A rich world of amazing words, expressions will not only help your child express themselves better but will also help them assimilate their own experiences better due to their clarity of thought gained by a wide exposure to time-tested learning methodologies.
An innate ability to express oneself clearly in both articulate speech as well as concise writing is the greatest power of expression you can gift your child as a parent.
So buck up your sleeves and get started on your journey to build your baby’s vocabulary. Teach them that learning needn’t be drudgery but fun. They will quickly learn that words can not only be exciting and interesting but also empowering. And don’t forget to enjoy yourself in the process!Happy Parenting!
What are your tried and tested ways to expand your kid’s vocabulary? Share with us in the comments below!