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How can my child learn new vocabulary?

Imagine a world where words are the colourful building blocks of ideas, the paintbrush strokes of emotions, and the keys that unlock the doors to exciting new knowledge. That’s the magical realm a rich vocabulary opens up for children. It’s more than just knowing “big” words – it’s about having a treasure trove of tools to express feelings, share thoughts, and connect with others. Just like a superhero’s toolkit, a wide vocabulary equips kids with the superpower of clear communication and fuels their imaginations to explore uncharted territories of learning.

Education is the process of preparing us for the big world and the big world has big words. The more big words I know, the better I will survive in it. Because there are hundreds of thousands of big words in English, I cannot learn them all. But this does not mean that I shouldn’t try to learn some.”

Professor David Crystal, Words, Words, Words’

Within the the UK government’s “Research Review Series: English” published in July 2022, they state;

There is a positive correlation between a pupil’s vocabulary size and their academic success. Pupils’ vocabulary size can act as a proxy measure for educational attainments and abilities in English as well as for general knowledge of science, history and the arts.
Research Review Series: English

The Education Endowment Foundation also emphasises the importance of extending pupils’ vocabulary by explicitly teaching new words, providing repeated exposure to new words, and providing opportunities for pupils to learn new words. 

So, how can you as a parent help to extend your child’s vocabulary? Here we share some practical tips and activities. 

1) Read, Read, Read
Encouraging your child to read is the best way to increase their vocabulary. Try to find a set time in the day in which your child can read. It might be in the morning before school, or in the evening before bedtime. Every child is different so find a way to engage your child in reading. It might be through comics, magazines, short novels, adventure stories, scary stories! Whatever works for them. Here are some blogposts to help:
What books should my child be reading?
11+ Reading List
Children’s Magazines
Reading with your Children

2) Talk, Talk, Talk

Try to have meaningful and enjoyable conversations with your child! I personally take advantage of dinner times and car journeys to have more in-depth conversations. Focus on asking open-ended questions so that your child has more opportunity to talk and use greater vocabulary.

3) Write, Write, Write

Encouraging your child to write creatively is the perfect way to extend their vocabulary. Our Creative Writing Courses teach children to express their ideas through rich vocabulary. Moreover, learning to use new vocabulary in context is far more beneficial and enjoyable than studying a dictionary!
Read about our Upcoming Courses

4) Flashcards:

Create flashcards with new words on one side and their definitions or a simple sentence using the word on the other side. Test yourself on the words and definitions.

5) Memory Match:

Make a set of matching cards with new words on one card and its definition on another. Shuffle the cards and try to match the words with their meanings.

6) Word Bingo:

Create bingo cards with new words in random order. Call out definitions, and mark the corresponding word if you have it on your bingo card.

7) Hangman:

Think of an ambitious word and draw blanks for each letter. Ask your partner to guess letters one by one to figure out the word.

8) Word Search:

Make a word search puzzle with new words hidden among a grid of letters. Find and circle the words as you locate them.

9) Sentence Building:

Use new words to create sentences. This will help you understand how the words are used in context.

10) Story Time:

Write a short story or paragraph ensuring you’re using new words. This helps you practise using words creatively.

11) Charades:

Act out the meanings of new words without speaking, and have others guess the words you’re representing.

12) Draw and Guess:

Illustrate the meanings of new words through simple drawings. Have someone guess the word based on your drawing.

13) Rhyme Time:

Come up with rhyming words for new words. This can help reinforce your memory of the words.

14) Synonym Match:

Find synonyms (words with similar meanings) for new words and match them up.

15) Antonym Challenge:

Think of antonyms (words with opposite meanings) for new words. This will deepen your understanding of their meanings.

16) Vocabulary Race:

Set a timer and see how quickly you can define or use new words correctly.

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