In addition to reading for meaning and reading fluency, vocabulary plays a very important part in reading. At one point in time, vocabulary knowledge was taught by looking up and writing the definition to words. However, we know now that vocabulary is much more than defining a word.
Expanding a child’s vocabulary can help with reading comprehension. When a child does not understand the words that are written it is very difficult for children to understand the meaning of the passage.
In addition to hearing the meaning of words, children need to hear various words used in context. When talking with children, teachers and parents should use various terms. They should make it a point to exchange terms that have the same meaning. This way children can gain a larger vocabulary. For example, when looking at two things that have the same number, teachers or parents can discuss the two as being the same or as being equal.
Many parents limit their vocabulary when talking with children. In many cases adults “talk down” to children. While children should not be talked to in scientific terms, adults should occasionally use larger terms when having a discussion with a child. Some websites offer ‘word of the day’ terms for parents and children.
Some parents unintentionally limit their child’s vocabulary by continuing baby talk through a child’s life. While it is okay for young toddlers to substitute words when they are first learning to talk, always make sure that your child is aware of the correct term. It may be very cute for a small toddler to ask for a ‘bite-bite’. However as the child grows older, parents should begin limiting the term to ‘bite’.
When reading books with terms that you feel your child may be unfamiliar with, stop and ask your child what the term may mean. Have the child look to pictures and listen to the rest of the text to determine the meaning of the word. Encourage your child to use newly learned terms in his/her conversations.
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