How many of you have heard from the school that your child’s vocabulary needs to be improved or even that your child’s vocabulary is exceptional? Have you ever wondered why there is so much stress on building the vocabulary in children? What are the vocabulary building games and what is the real need for them?
Vocabulary is an integral part of any language. The research shows that children below 3 years tend to pick up more than 10 words per day. Also, as per the same research, the children below six years tend to pick up 3-4 languages easily. But, whereas for adults like us it takes a longer time to pick up any new language. Have you ever wondered what’s the reason behind it?
To learn any new language, we need to learn different words in that language. We need to understand when and how to use those appropriate words apart from the proper pronunciation. This means that we need to consciously build our vocabulary in that language so that we can speak that language fluently. So, the vocabulary building games help us in building our new vocabulary, which as toddler, we did automatically, without any additional efforts.
Reasons as to why Vocabulary is Critical for the Child:
Having a good vocabulary will not only improve your child’s comprehension but also improve his speaking and listening skills. Apart from that, the child with good vocabulary will normally enjoy better success in the school as well as further ahead in life due to the following reasons:
- Express his emotions and feelings clearly
- It would help him become a quick reader when compared to his peers
- Improves the child’s imagination and thinking power
- Expands his knowledge about the surrounding world
- Lastly, it would help the child in his academic growth too.
The pediatric research shows that the more we engage our baby with conversations, the child would more likely to pick up new words faster. As stated earlier the highest rate of the vocabulary developing happens during the pre-school years for any child. And it will not happen suddenly but will happen in a gradual manner. The child’s brain is always at work, trying to understand and map the words to sounds.
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But unfortunately, most of the parents don’t understand this and they tend to think that the parents need not have to sit and talk with toddlers, they are like sponges and tend to absorb all the words we speak. But just listening to the words we speak will not be able to provide the right connections of the words to the sounds for children.
“Vocabulary is a matter of word-building as well as word-using” by David Crystal
If we happen to recall, a toddler would be calling a dog with the name “wow wow”, as all he hears is the bark of the dog, even before he knows the name of that animal like a dog, he could associate the sound with that animal. The same goes for automobiles or any other pet animals.
So how do we help the children achieve this? Below are the few listed activities that can be done without much preparation at home.
Vocabulary Building Activities:
Engaging in Conversations around the daily routines: By having conversations around the daily routines, when getting the child ready would help him grasp the names of the objects in his immediate world. These conversations can happen multiple times around multiple different situations, which would improve their vocabulary on everything.
Need repeated exposure to learning new Vocabulary: The children need continuous repetition of those newly acquired words till the time they were able to make the connection of the word and its meaning. So exposing them to songs and bhajans at a tender age would allow them to observe how the same song gets played repeatedly and they would pick up the words with ease.
Storytelling: Just passive reading wouldn’t engage the child’s mind. But if the parent becomes an active storyteller and stresses on the new words that are being used in the story continuously, the children would be able to pick up their meanings and make the connections.
Reading time before bedtime: The passive reading just before bedtime sets the habit of reading for the children and this would allow them to dwell on new words they read in the story during their sleep time.
Dictionary time: After the child enters the primary classes, the way they learn new words would be a little different. They would look for more explanation and details like the origin of the words, and its etymology. That’s the right time to introduce the Dictionary to the children. Looking for the meanings of the new words in the dictionary opens a new set of doors for them into the Magic World of the Vocabulary.
Vocabulary Building Games:
Apart from the formal instruction, the vocabulary can be improved by introducing the following fun-filled ways into your daily routines.
- Creating a theme-based storyboard: will aid in improving the creativity of the children along with the vocabulary. This creative storytelling can be handled in an impromptu manner so that the children can pick and start narrating the story by taking turns. The idea of this game is to add sentences about the same theme one after the other. This would be the ideal game for young children
- Games like “I Spy“, “Simon wants to find” will provide the associations between the names and meanings of the words to young children.
- Playing board games like Scrabble, Pictionary: Playing scrabble and Pictionary not only increases the vocabulary but also improves the spelling power in children
- Solving Word Puzzles like Word Search, Crossword and Word Sudoko improves the logical thinking as well as the vocabulary
- Playing the word games like Word Builder, Hang Man, etc while going on the long drives or while waiting at any place. These games can be tweaked based on the mood and interest of the children. We can introduce the antonyms, synonyms, and meanings also through these games to the children.
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“One Forgets Words as one forgets names. One’s vocabulary needs constant fertilizing or it will die” – Evelyn Waugh
Playing the vocabulary building games with our children helps not only them but also sharpens our brain cells. So that’s another reason why we need to continuously play these games with our children whenever time permits.
Lastly, all these can be implemented only if we follow the Child and modify the above based on his mood and interests. The direct instruction of the new words would come definitely from their curriculum and would follow a different approach, which will be discussed in another blog. But at home, we can definitely introduce new languages and different topics in the way mentioned above. My child’s favorite is the Hangman and Word Builder games that he wants to play them daily at the breakfast table at least for 10 minutes. He, in fact, keeps preparing for the new words before going to bed. What about you, what’s your child’s favorite among the vocabulary building games mentioned above?