One of the most important things any parent can do is to increase your child’s vocabulary. However, that’s easier said than done! How can a busy parent find time to help their child?  

Listen Actively. Any child wants to be heard and giving them that attention is probably the most important thing you can ever do, because it empowers your child to express themselves more.

Paraphrase. It is easy to nod and give you opinion about something. However, children learn quickly from you if you repeat what they have just said, but change one or two words. For instance, if your child says, “I had a great time at school today!” You could paraphrase this as, “Oh, you had a fabulous time, didn’t you?” 

Check their understanding. It’s common for children to miss the nuance of a word. When you are talking to your child, actively seek to check if they do understanding something, but don’t just use yes/no type questions, but ones which are open and which empower your child to respond more expansively. 

Never just give the meaning of word. It’s very tempting to simply tell a child what a word means. It’s far better to encourage them to work out the meaning for themselves. They can easily guess what kind of word it is e.g. if it is a noun or a verb. From the sound of a word they can guess its qualities and from the logic of the preceding words they could guess its meaning. Working with your child in this way will foster a love for words…

Read, read, read. Reading is the most important activity for naturally increasing vocabulary.  When reading with your child focus on tricky words. Make it interesting by rhyming those words, finding strange and funny connections with other words.

Learning vocabulary can be fun and the more fun you make it the more a child will want to learn. Play is the best way to discover words, after all, writing is mostly rewriting and editing and to master this challenging skills involves many hours of transferring words, reordering sentences and selecting new words.