How to Easily Improve Your Child's Vocabulary
Having a broad vocabulary in many different subject areas is crucial for a child's academic success. To properly comprehend a text, a child must understand more than 90% of what they are reading. A larger vocabulary will improve your child's comprehension, which will make them a better student.
Improving a child's vocabulary is easy to do and doesn't take much time each day. And it can even be fun for kids.
It's Reading and What You Read
Even if your child can already read themselves, you should continue to read to them every day. Reading is without a doubt the best way to build a child's vocabulary because they learn word meanings in context. If possible, stay on a few related topics for a while, so your child can build up a broad vocabulary and knowledge in those areas. For example, you could focus on art history, the human body and American history over a period of time. If you jump from subject to subject too quickly, a child will likely forget much of what they learned.
What you read is extremely important. You need to cover a wide range of subject areas to expose kids to vocabulary words related to many different fields. This isn't as hard as it sounds.
I've written other articles on educational books for children. One thing I recommend is encyclopedia type books, such as the Usborne or Kingfisher series. Educational chapter books are another great option. These are often fun fiction stories that teach science or history. The sciences are so broad, it's a good idea to continuously have a science book on your reading list, to ensure that all areas are covered.
This might seem like a lot of reading but it really isn't. Many books aimed at younger children have short sections that don't take more than a few minutes to read. So, even 20 minutes of reading before bed can go a long way in building and improving a child's vocabulary.
Memorizing vocabulary words is definitely less effective than reading but there are a couple of vocabulary books that I really like. The "240 Vocabulary Words nth Grade Kids Need To Know: 24 Ready-to-Reproduce Packets That Make Vocabulary Building Fun & Effective" series is great for elementary age kids. Each section introduces 10 words and has several activities to reinforce the meaning. I do one activity per day, so we continually come back to the same words for a week or so.
Vocabulary Power is a series for kindergarten to 3rd grade. This is a word of the day book with a stand that can be displayed on a shelf in your child's room. I usually stay on one word for a few days, regularly using it throughout the day, to reinforce the meaning.
Educational Television Shows
PBS has a cartoon show called Martha Speaks that is actually designed to increase vocabulary. Several words are introduced in each show and repeatedly used in the context of a story. This is a fun way for preschool and early elementary age children to build their vocabulary. Other shows that are good for vocabulary building are The Cat in the Hat, Dinosaur Train, Sid the Science Kid and the Magic School Bus. Try to limit your children's viewing to educational programs that will build their vocabularies.