Vocabulary is vital for reading comprehension. If kids do not know what the words mean, they will not be able to make sense of the text they are reading. Beginning readers have to use the words that they hear orally to understand the words they see in print. This larger vocabulary will really pay off as they progress through school and texts become more complex. Kids that are exposed to powerful vocabulary words at home come to school with an arsenal of vocabulary words to help them understand a myriad of texts. In this blog, I will share a few ways to help kids to learn and remember new vocabulary words.
Don’t Skip Unknown Words
Have you ever listened to your child read and notice that when they come across a difficult word, they skip it? When this happens, talk about what to do when they encounter an unknown word. Encourage your child to attempt the word, tell them the word, if necessary, then talk about what the word means. Teach them to use the words and sentences around the unknown word to figure out the meaning, or show them how to use the dictionary to define the word. But, be careful with using a dictionary. The key here is to get your child to UNDERSTAND what the word means and USE it in a meaningful way. They can’t just recite the definition and be expected to understand it. They have to connect to the word and use it in a way that makes sense to them. The more that they hear the word used in various contexts and use it themselves, the more likely they will be to remember it and incorporate it into their oral and written vocabulary.
Prefixes, Suffixes, and Roots…Oh, My!
They may not look exciting, but they are so very important to understand the meaning of new words! Teach your child the meaning of common roots, prefixes, and suffixes to exponentially increase their vocabulary knowledge! When kids learn the meaning of one word, they will begin to notice different words with the same word parts and start to make valuable connections. Your child’s teacher will also thank you for exposing them to these word affixes!
When I am teaching my students new vocabulary words, we often act them out. It’s almost like playing charades. Together, we come up with a gesture that symbolizes the word’s meaning. Parents can do this too! It is important to interact with new words in some way to make them memorable. You and your child can decide on the type of interaction. Draw their meaning, act them out, or even create a flyer “advertising” the new word. There are so many possibilities! The key is to make the words come alive so that your child will remember them.
In closing, vocabulary is a critical component of reading comprehension. If we want our children to understand what they are reading, we have to help them build their vocabulary at home. Kids with robust vocabularies understand more of what they read and hear.