• What is it?

    With a solid vocabulary, a child is able to understand and use spoken and written words in order to communicate effectively.

    Why is it important?

    A broad vocabulary helps a child in reading, writing, speaking, and listening. A strong vocabulary provides a foundation for reading decoding and comprehension and improves learning in all subject areas.

    What can we do at home?

    Read aloud - Continue to read aloud toyour child - even after he/she is able to read well independently. Choose books that are above your child's reading level because these books are sure to contain vocabulary that is new to your child. By reading these books aloud to your child, you are introducing words into his/her listening vocabulary, and this will make it much easier for the child to recognize and understand these words when he/she comes across them in the future.

    Preview words - Before reading to or with your child, scan through the book, choose two words that you think might be interesting or unfamiliar to your child. Write the words on sticky notes, and tell your child what the words are and what they mean. As you read the book,your child will be listening for those words.

    Hot potato (version1) - Play hot potato with synonyms. Choose a word, and then your child has to think of another word that means the same thing. Take turns until someone is stumped. For example, you may say, "Cold," and your child might say,"Freezing." Then you could say, "Chilly," and so on. Try the game again with antonyms.

    Hot potato (version2) - Play hot potato with prefixes or suffixes. The prefixes anti-, co-, de-, dis-, ex-,mis-, non-, pre-, re-, tri-, un-, and under- are common ones. Common suffixes include -able(-ible), -ate, -ed, -er, -est, -ful, -ish, -less, -ly, -ment, and-ness.

    Hot potato (version3) - Play hot potato with categories. For younger children, the categories can be simple: pets, clothes, family members. For older children, the categories can be quite complex: The Revolutionary War, astronomy, math terms.

    Word Collecting - Have each family member be on the look out for interesting words that were heard that day. At dinner or bedtime, have everyone share the word they collected and tell what they think it means. If the child shares an incorrect meaning, guide him/her to the correct meaning. Try to use some of the words in conversation.