When the famous playwright Edward Bulwer-Lytton said that the pen is mightier than the sword, he wasn't referring to a magic black ballpoint that could go up against a blade in battle and win -- he was saying that words are ultimately one of the most powerful weapons and useful tools known to mankind. If you give your children the gift of a diverse vocabulary, you give them a priceless power and tool to advocate for themselves, communicate with others, and understand the world around them on a higher level. Here are five of the best ways to make sure you're doing everything in your power to boost your child's vocabulary.
1. Play word games like Scrabble
As you’ve probably learned, play is often the best form of education. Vocabulary building is no different! During the next family game night, why not suggest one of the 11 word games at We Are Teachers? On top of giving your child the opportunity and incentive to improve their vocabulary, you also gain valuable time as a family.
2. Challenge your child’s reading levels
It’s a given that reading increases vocabulary, but the key to acquiring a rich word bank isn’t necessarily just reading, but reading at challenging levels. It can be a bit hard to assess your child's reading level in order to select books that push their boundaries and introduce new vocabulary. Check out Sonic Learning for tips on how to pick reading material for your child and also how to get kids who struggle with reading to fall in love with books.
3. Incorporate a word-a-day game in your household
Along with an array of other creative ways that your whole family can build vocabulary together, Nashville Parent suggests that you turn learning into a whole-house event and get the entire family learning with a word-a-day schedule. You can even turn it into a game and give points when your child uses the word in the correct context!
4. Don’t filter your own word choices in conversation with your child
Children learn through watching and listening to you. For that reason, First Tutors recommends that you make conscious efforts to have adult conversations with your child. Often, parents and other influential adults fall into the trap of “filtering” their own word choices to cater to the child’s understanding, but this only handicaps your child’s ability to build a robust vocabulary. To best aid in word acquisition, don't filter your language. Use “adult” language so that they can be exposed to and learn new sentence structures and terms.
5. Encourage regular writing practices
Vocabulary building is as much about using the words as it is acquiring them, and writing is an excellent way to exercise those new-word muscles. Write Shop has three great writing activities (like making a list or copying another work) that will teach new words as well as giving your child the opportunity to use them. Plus, writing is an excellent creative outlet and form of self-expression!
Having a diverse and creative vocabulary will help your kid communicate more clearly and concisely as well as increase their understanding of the world around them. Sadly, there’s no magic word you can say to instantaneously give your child a rich vocabulary. Word acquisition is a slow-paced process, but thankfully it doesn’t have to be boring! Implement one of these strategies and get to building.