How to begin? What word to use? Have you ever struggled to find the right word ? A strong vocabulary starts as early as a preschooler according to recent research. As reported by Big Ideas, Little Learners: Early Childhood Trends Report 2019, vocabulary disparity begins to appear at 18 months. 1
Helping preschoolers learn new words can help improve the disparity and establish strong reading skills. Here are 6 ways to build a child’s vocabulary 2:
1. Visit the Library
Ask the librarian for help if you are not sure where to begin. Attend the fun and engaging activities at your local library. Events at a library are a public service and typically are free.
2. Teach and Reinforce The Alphabet
Singing the alphabet song is a simple way to get preschoolers engaged in learning. You can use the alphabet to play games such as selecting a word that begins with letters in order of the alphabet.
3. Use Descriptive Words
Expand on the description of items when talking with your child. Using descriptive words may be beyond your child’s understanding but using them in proper context makes them more comprehensible. Also, try using synonyms with your child to broaden their vocabulary and word choice.
4. Become a Super Sorter
Label items in your child’s room and sort items into bins. Seeing is learning and can teach children to think logically and build their vocabulary. Another way to learn new words is to help them visualize it - use flashcards or pictures from magazines for this.
5. Practice Rhymes
Not only is rhyming fun but can help toddlers think about how different words can relate to each other. Reading books such as Dr. Suess can be fun.
6. Read Aloud Together
Book time can be quality one-on-one time with your preschooler. Select books that will interest your child and stretch their understanding. Along with reading, engage your child by asking questions and allowing them to ask questions. This will expand vocabulary and also begin to build comprehension skills.
Expanding your child’s vocabulary is not difficult but it is necessary to help them along the path to reading. Starting early is the key to reduce the disparity of vocabulary for your child. While it does take some planning to attend the library or label/organize your child’s room, the benefits will become apparent as your child begins to incorporate new words into every day conversation.
1 Big Ideas, Little Learners: Early Childhood Trends Report 2019, Omidyar Network, 2019
2 8 Fun Ways to Build a Child’s Vocabulary, Very Well Family, January 2019