Vocabulary for Achievement: Talk Your Way To It

Want to help your child do well in math and reading? Make regular trips to the library. Sing and play music. Take him to a zoo or museum. Above all, talk about these experiences together.

Studies show that the more a child learns new vocabulary words in conversation, the greater their achievement in school. What we talk about counts, too. While “set the table” is necessary transactional speech for us parents, conversing about rich topics introduces new and more complex words.

It's been a few days for this tree to turn from yellowy-orange to red? Or is that from saffron to cerise?
It took a few days for this tree to turn from yellowy-orange to red? Or is that from saffron to cerise?

For example, talking about a trip to the zoo uses words about unusual animals or habitats. A parent who works in biopharmaceuticals or who is a carpenter uses words particular to their employment. It enriches kids to learn new vocabulary words from every area of their family’s life.

It’s not surprising to learn that vocabulary grows depending on the way we use it with kids. Kids’ vocabulary grows when a parent talks in a supportive way. Here’s an example.

Recently, I saw a big, burly grandfather pushing a grocery cart with a little girl perched on the end. Her chirpy voice contrasted with his deep one as she described something she wanted to find and pointed down an aisle.

“Okay,” he boomed and nodded his head solemnly. “We’ll go up and down every aisle if we have to.”

Support. Undivided attention. Meaning what we say. We all learn more when we’re in that environment.

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