Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Parents Can Improve Children's Vocabulary

Simple Ways Parents Can Improve Children’s Vocabulary

Welcome to my second article for “PreK + K Sharing.”
My hope is to provide parents, teachers and administrators quick “gems” they may use to create a lifelong passion for reading in children. To that end, I urge readers to interact with me by asking me questions I can address in future blog posts.

Happy Daddy & Sweetie on Bakery Field Trip: acquiring vocabulary!

While many understand that children with stronger vocabularies read better, parents grasp for ideas of how they can help. Reading aloud to children and providing them with plenty of reading materials is a great start. In addition to wide reading, there are a number of strategies you can use.

Teaching children is like trying on blue jeans.
                                                     One size does not fit all.
Reading 'Environmental Print'
Some children respond better to flashcards, while others may prefer discussing new words. Every child differs. Keep trying different activities until you find the one that best suits your child.

Here are a few suggestions:
·         Games. Mary Poppins was right – for every job to be done, there is a game to make it fun. From scavenger hunts to word riddles to dramatic productions known as “word plays,” games arouse children’s interest in experimenting with different word uses, meanings and structures. One of the best places that I have found to play vocabulary games with my own kids is in the car while driving. Point out signs, play “I Spy,” look for license plates and bumper stickers – there are endless possibilities (and it is much better bonding time than turning a video on in the minivan).

·         Discussions. Allow children an active role before, during and after you read aloud to them. Talking about new words is one of the simplest, most natural ways to learn new vocabulary.

·         Writing/Analyses. Select key words from books you are reading with your child and write them on individual cards. Ask your child to sort the words into groups based on commonalities, relationships and/or other criteria.

·         Visuals/Graphics. Diagrams allow children to visualize the relationships between words. Charts and pictures are also helpful to many. Better yet, hand your child a camera and let him create his own picture dictionary.

Creating a personal "picture dictionary"
·         Field Trips. Context is everything, and there is no better way to expose young children to new vocabulary words than to take them on lots of excursions. Museums, parks, libraries – these are all wonderful places, but a field trip for a young child can be something as simple as getting a haircut, going out to a restaurant or taking a walk down the street. Parents can expose their children to all sorts of new vocabulary words in the simplest yet most meaningful ways just by taking their children on different “word adventures.”

You can improve your child’s vocabulary by illustrating how to make word-learning fun. Remember, you are your child’s best teacher.

Danny Brassell, Ph.D., is a father of three and professor in the Teacher Education Department at California State University-Dominguez Hills. He is the founder of The Lazy Readers’ Book Club, www.lazyreaders.com, Google’s #1-ranked site for cool, “short book recommendations” for all ages. You can get more teaching tips by browsing his books and videos at his website, www.dannybrassell.com.


  1. Hi Danny! I really enjoyed your article. One game-based way that I've used a great deal is becoming the words in books with our bodies. One point I enjoyed a lot was the idea of allowing children to be part of the reflective process after a story. Another point I thought was brilliant, yet simple, was having word adventures on a field trip. Fun! Thanks for sharing. Happy Holidays!

  2. And sing! Add your own words to familiar tunes or nursery rhymes: Mommy and Baby went up the hill....
    Make up "Once upon a time stories", Once upon a breakfast table, there was a clock that said: Oh, dear. Somebody ate the time instead of eating cereal so now we have to hurry and scurry! So the family...
    Say the same words or sing the same songs using different voices. If words were pennies, make lots of deposits in kids' brain banks. (123kindergarten)

  3. Great suggestions, Danny! I especially enjoy using games, songs, stories, poetry, and Montessori presentations and nomenclature cards to improve children's vocabulary. I featured your post at the Living Montessori Now Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/LivingMontessoriNow

  4. Thank you to Enrique, Barbara and Deb for your kind comments. Enrique - I love the idea about becoming the words in books with our bodies. The added motion works wonders with retention. Barbara - you and I are kindred spirits, as I put EVERYTHING to songs. Holler if you ever have a concept that needs a song, as I used to write 5-6/day with my students (some of them didn't stink). ;-) Deb - thank you so much for posting my blog on your Montessori webpage. I am such a huge Montessori proponent, and I wish her ideas were more commonplace in our public schools.

    Many thanks to all of you, and happy new year. I am thrilled to be part of this site, Debbie! ;-)

  5. Such nice post regarding improving the vocabulary of your child.
    Keep it on!!!!!!

    improve vocabulary fast
    TOEIC vocabulary flashcards

  6. Thanks for sharing this post.A great way to become a great English communicator is to learn how to increase English vocabulary.

  7. Interesting! Leaning new words have always been burdensome for many students, as it is an abstract skill. Therefore, just learning new words without keeping it in the memory will put all your efforts in vain. So visit www.vocabmonk.com for learning new words with thematic learning, gamified way and also with personalized sessions. Be connected.


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