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How to Teach Your Child Vocabulary and How to Use It
Quite often I am asked just how bright my children are. The reason is not that they are extremely bright necessarily. The reason is clear. People judge you by the words you use and how articulate you are. The logic of language is fascinating. There is no better way to have a conversation with your child than to work together on a word’s meaning and use.
Let us look at about 6 ways to foster and teach and mentor a young one in the art of language and how to use it. I think you are going to be pleasantly surprised at how much you learn when you do it constructively. We will just address mechanics here. But as we will see those mechanics seep into thinking more clearly.
Do you talk to yourself in your mind without opening your mouth to speak? If you answered no you should be a millionaire in teaching meditation where clearing the mind of self-talk is one of the goals. All with a working mind talk to themselves. We cannot change that so we should take advantage of that process. So if your vocabulary is advanced your self-talk will be advanced.
Start thinking about it with this example. Child hears another at school use a double negative through ignorance. “I ain’t got no….” The child will actually consciously or subconsciously repeat that sentence in his mind. We just do that. Even when we write or read we repeat the sentence in our brain. A child with language skills will think “I ain’t got no….” and his brain will reject it as wrong. Vocabulary controls what we say to ourselves to a large degree. The child without language skills adopts it. And worse a child repeats it to be socially acceptable. And then as the parent passes it down to their child. I call it language abuse addiction that can nearly be genetic.
Don’t even let your mind go to the place of deciding that your child will not hang out with children who speak so abhorrently. That is what creates snobbery. And if our elevated language skills distance us from others we have missed the boat completely. Language is really only perfect in our mind, which can be lonely or it is to communicate. Unless you are a recluse like me you miss out on the good stuff if you do not express yourself to others. Being clear and concise is such a gift to others. It is right up there with “I mean what I say and I do what I mean”. It is the basis of healthy trust. Ambiguity unless in a clear teaching or preaching setting is the language of the slippery.
Cool Song Of Words
Writing of the Piute
How about emphasis? Using the right words for emphasis most be engrained early and often. Have you ever noticed that people who cuss a lot and use foul language have a limited vocabulary? They emphasize with base words. And then it just becomes a habit. “What do you mean by that” rather than “what the F are you talking about”? And this same notion applies to using one word over and over again. Sure “wow” is good. But we should mix that up with “that is incredible!”. Wow really is ambiguous. But normally we know what it means. Note the different way of saying “is really ambiguous”. For instance I may say “a course of obstacles” and you may say it as a bit ambiguous “an obstacle course”. The second normal way really sounds more like a course is an obstacle. The point is that you cannot see those differences without having a very good (maybe not great) vocabulary. To be able to thoroughly analyze and investigate your understanding through concise words is a necessity.
I hope those notions help to lay the ground work for understanding why you should even care about vocabulary. After all we would not want our children to speak better than we do and folks with fancy pantsy vocabularies are snobs. If you buy into those notions read no further. But if you choose to go forward and your vocabulary is a case of arrested development fear not. “Together” learning together will be a self-help, self-improvement for you and you are worth it. And another thing, with a basically good vocabulary it becomes easier to speak in love. And it makes us think twice before speaking. In other words our self-talk has us going through our own glossary of terms prior to verbalization and like in anger management a few moments of thought create an environment of reflection rather than reaction.
Hey, all and all we see that it is important to exercise daily for our health and to eat a healthy diverse diet. Well to me at least a “work out” regimen for the mind is also required. Sure we put our children in soccer but seldom in an afternoon reading and writing program. And they are not mutually exclusive.
(we just had a conversation about osmosis and permeable and the reaction was “cool”.) Let us stop lollygagging and get to work.
How Do I Say....?
Why Do We Talk The Way We Talk?
Use Your Words
Get into it! Make a habit of looking up a new word per day and sharing it. A phrase is also a good way to go. Social diversification anyone? Do we really know what that means? Look it up then share it.
A great game to play is the pick a word, suffix and prefix game. It goes like the “smart” – smarty, smarting, smarted, smarts, smarter, outsmart, streetsmarts. (being smart about the street is often limited to two words) That stuff is fun and perfect for dinner table, car travel and walks and waiting.
Read words that are totally insane and really hard to pronounce. My son’s favorite is out of the book package called The Box of Stars. One section in it reads “Both Sirius and Canis Major and Procyon in Canis Minor lie in the West of the Zenith overhead…. Spica in Virgo to the west of it Sagittarus and Capricornus, Corvusa, Crater and Hydra…. What craziness is that? You shout. Just try it with something like science and bugs. Let them sound out the names. Some kind of deal where they are teaching themselves and end up knowing more than you.
Here is the best advice of all; Talk to them like an adult. You cannot raise someone up if you communicate at their level. Be careful here not to use words you are not sure of because you will get busted, or better yet admit it and enjoy the teaching moment when you can get to a dictionary. Of course that brings us to the dictionary. Make it a game if need be. Get them used to it. Online is just fine. This of course leads us to Read, Read and Read!
Get involved with their words. I found out just tonight that beyond a BFF there is a BFL. Best friend for life. “Do you mean, like infinity?” “I still like to say ‘beyond infinity’”.
Verbally autocorrect without interrupting the flow. In other words you would say, “I get what you are saying but gooder is really not a word”.
“That thing over there”. Yikes! Take the time to break it down. Start with shape, size and color, then a better description of where. Then, “it looks like a….”. Now I just say “use your words”. And the litany begins.
If you are a Christian or other type of spiritual being do not get children’s editions of your texts. Just do not do it. Why would you? They do not help the child learn, in fact they retard the child’s growth.
Now some of this sounds harsh and like too much work. But fear not. All you have to do is add love to the protocol and it will work out fine.