“Children with smaller vocabularies at school entry were found to be most at-risk of experiencing learning difficulties at later ages, particularly in the area of reading.” (Biemiller, 1999)
Words can be thought of as the building blocks of language. The importance of early language input for vocabulary development has been widely established through various research.
Helping children learn new words can happen in both structured and unstructured activities, individually or in a group. Take the time to use vocabulary building strategies:
- Name objects, actions, feelings and concepts.
- Use visual cues such as facial expressions, pointing, miming and gesturing to help children learn and understand new words.
- Provide visual supports: post photos, a picture schedule and visual instructions in your playroom. This way, children can see what you are talking about.
- Repeat words and phrases often!
- Introduce new words. Have a word of the week. Explain the meaning of the word and use it in as many ways as possible. Make a scrapbook of all the new words.
- Provide sensory activities to model lots of descriptive words and spatial concepts.
- Sing songs. Their repetitive nature helps children learn the words.
- Read story books so children will hear uncommon words. Explain the meaning of new words and use them throughout the day. Stories also help children to learn to predict, problem solve and understand the world.
- Play imitation games like ‘Simon Says’ to teach action words (verbs). Be creative! Sprinkle in uncommon words like “gallop” instead of “run” or “spring” instead of “jump.”