Here it is - my overdue post on the "Jump Start Reading at Home" project. The first building block I'll write about is vocabulary.
Vocabulary means knowing the names of things.
Why is it important for children to hear a wide range of vocabulary and to expose them to many words?
Children need to know the meanings of words to understand what they are reading. When you think about it, you know if you are reading a word correctly if you have heard it before. You are sounding it out. The more words children hear, the more ready they will be to make connections when they read.
What can parents do to help children learn vocabulary?
The best way to help children learn new words is to talk and read to them. Reading to children is especially important in building a larger vocabulary because children hear more new words when you read books. Explain unfamiliar words to your child rather than substituting familiar words; this exposes children to many more words. Label more than just things; label feelings - yours and your child's. This will help your child express how he feels and become less frustrated. Talk about concepts like more/less/same; before/after; above/below; time and seasons; also ideas like fairness, friendship, and honesty. This helps children develop vocabulary about things that are real but cannot be seen.
Use specific vocabulary when you talk with children. Don't underestimate them. For example, for things that move, be specific - car, SUV, pickup truck, van, etc. For animals, use the name for the adults and the babies, like cow and calf.
Language addressed to young children needs to be simple, clear and positive in tone in order to be best understood. Use lots and lots of repetition. Children NEED repetition to learn. The quantity of language is critical. The more words a child hears, the larger his vocabulary will be, which will help with reading.
Naming feelings and talking about them will help children feel less frustrated. Happy and sad are common ones, try empbarrassed, shy, frustrated, angry, surprised, scared and worried.
By the time children are two years old, they understand 300-500 words. You help your child learn new words by talking and reading together.
Learning words begins at birth and grows throughout a child's life. Most children start school knowing between 3,000 and 5,000 words.
"Vocabulary is learned from books more than from normal conversation with adults or children or from television exposure." From Meaningful Differences in the Everyday Experience of Young American Children by B. Hart and T.R. Risley
Plus, having a larger vocabulary makes you a better Scrabble player! ;)
Here is a funny song by the Barenaked Ladies from their children's album Snacktime. This song should definitely build kids' vocabularies!
Hey Ed, that sounds nice, what is it?
Thank you, it’s an alphabet song I’m working on.
Oh great, a whole new alphabet. I just learned the old one.
A is for aisle
B is for bdellium
C is for czar
And if you see him, would you mind telling him-
Okay, hang on a second, yeah aisle?
Yeah, aisle like a, like a theatre.
Alright, okay, and bdellium?
Bdellium- it’s a gum like tree resin. It starts with a silent B.
And then czar?
Yeah, it’s uh- like a Russian czar. You know, everyone knows apple ball and cat. I wanted to get into some, you know, some stranger words.
Right, I see what you’re doing.
D is for djinn
E for Euphrates
F is for fohn, but not like when I call the ladies
I thought phone started with a “p”...like a “ph”
No its f-o-h-n, it’s a kind of wind
Yeah, I know what you mean by wind
G for Gnarly,
I for irk
H is for hour
J for jalapeños
Good in either corn or flour (tortillas…)
K is for knick-knack
L is for llama
Pramma, llama, ding -
What’s so strange about llama?
Llama, its starts with two L’s
What’s the second one for?
I know, loser.
N for neumonic
M is for mdomo
O is for ouija board
P for pneumonia pterodactyl and psychosis
Q is for qat
Okay, Q - qat? What?
Yeah it’s uh...q-a-t. It’s an evergreen shrub. It’s a perfect scrabble word because it’s a q with no u. There’s not many of those.
You have too much time on your hands.
R is for R-gyle
No, it isn’t.
Okay, you’re right; I couldn’t find a good “r” word.
S is for Saar, a lovely German river
T for tsunami, a wave that makes me quiver
U is for urn, but not like earning money
V for vraisemblance from French,
And therefore kind of funny
W for wren, wrinkly, and who.
X is for Xian, an ancient Chinese city, true!
Ancient Chinese city, huh? My guitar player, some hotshot.
Y is for yperite, a very nasty gas.
And zed’s the final letter
And by final, I mean last.
Okay, when you say zed, for the benefit of our American friends, you really mean Z, right?
No I mean Zed, like, like Zed Zed Top.
Zed Zed Top?
Yeah, you know the guys with the big long beards. Well, except the guy whose name is Beard. He has a mustache. I always thought that was interesting.
You done with the alphabet? No extra letters I haven’t heard of?
I think so.
Well this was a great help, I think. You know,the contribution you made to world literacy.
Well, I’m just saying, kids - I’m just saying think outside the box a little bit
Box with an “r.”
Yeah, well, no, box with a b-a-l-k-s, like a pitcher.
Ahh, as opposed to b-a-c-h-s.
Right, think outside the “balks.”