Developing Your Child’s Vocabulary - Student Resources

Developing Your Child’s Vocabulary

Father and daughter smiling at each other as they go over homework

As children progress through school, they will need to use a range of nouns, adjectives, verbs and other parts of speech. Expanding their vocabulary is not only necessary for their academic careers, but it’s also an essential life skill that is worth spending time developing.

Children learn a lot from the adults in their lives and there are many ways you can help your child learn new words. Here are some activities you can do to help expand their vocabulary.

A great way to expand vocabulary is through the use of synonyms.

Synonyms can be looked up in a thesaurus but your child might benefit more from just hearing them in context. For example, instead of saying “Let’s take a walk to the park”, you could say “Let’s take a stroll to the park.”

Another way is to mimic a thesaurus when you speak. For example, instead of saying “You are pretty”, you could add emphasis to new words by saying “You are pretty… gorgeous!”. Adding emphasis to the new word will help the child remember and connect it to the word they already know.

young girl reading while using her finger as a guide

Story time is an opportunity to learn new words.

Whether you’re reading to your child or they are reading to you, occasionally stop at a picture and ask your child to describe the picture in their own words.

  • What is the character doing in this picture?
  • How would you describe them?
  • What do you think that character is thinking right now?

This exercise also has the added benefit of developing their comprehension skills by helping them think deeper about what they’re reading.

A rewards chart can make learning new words fun and engaging.

Design a chart together on poster paper and have your child fill in columns with new words they learned each day. Every time they fill a column they get a reward such as a small treat, choosing a family dinner, or sticker points to put towards larger rewards later like choosing a family activity. The knowledge that rewards are waiting, can help them pay more attention to the new words they hear throughout the day.

This chart can also serve as a helpful record of all the amazing new words your child learned over the course of the week, month and so on. You can refer back to it and actively throw them into conversations to help your child retain the new words.

Tip: Is your child learning a second language? This activity can work for that too!