During the growth and development stage in children, their brains form stronger and more complex connections that help them gain experience. Research has shown that during the first ten years of a child’s life, they learn things at a very speedy rate. This stage is known as the “Windows of Opportunity” or “Critical Period” stage. The ability to learn a language in children occurs during their first year. Their vocabulary increases fourfold by the time they are two years of age. This is known as the “Vocabulary Explosion” stage.
Unlike children, adults are prone to losing some synaptic connections. The synapses that survive and flourish depend on how often they are used. Let’s take a case in example of a two-year-old child whose parents speak two separate languages. The child is able to recognize some words from both languages if both parents use both languages in front of him or her. However, the ability to speak or understand either of the languages gets lost when the parents stop speaking it.
Therefore, since children grasp and understand things faster than adults do, a parent or guardian can use this opportunity to improve their vocabulary. This can be done in such a way that the child doesn’t feel like they are being tutored or compelled to learn. To do so, parents or guardians can use the following exercises to improve the vocabulary for kids:
1. Teach them to read and write on their own
Research has shown that reading and writing contributes about 20% of our vocabulary. When parents teach their kids how to read and write from an early age, they help promote the correct and regular use of new words. One simple way of teaching your child how to read is by taking them to the library as often as possible and getting them library cards. When they come across new words, help them figure out their meanings and how they can use them in sentences.
2. Create a word-rich environment for them
To improve vocabulary for kids, parents ought to promote word-consciousness. This can be done through an array of games and songs. Playing puzzles and crosswords with your child will allow you to not only bond with them, but also to help enhance their vocabulary. Children can also improve their vocabulary using a number of kids learning programs that can be found online. Most of these kids learning programs are free of charge and easily accessible to parents.
Storytelling is a fun way of teaching your child new words and the meaning of different words as well. Encourage your child to tell you stories and respond to them using synonyms. If, for example, your child says, “the giant was huge”, you could ask, “So he was enormous?”
4. Use proper language while speaking to them
Avoid using ‘baby talk’ when you are talking to your kids. Do not use incongruous sounds or utter words in a monotonous cadence or rhythm while using exaggerated facial expressions. Rather, use real and normal words. Otherwise, you can use songs that mimic different sounds.
5. Talk to them regularly
Holding a conversation can help improve the vocabulary for kids. Research shows that talking to your child can help improve their IQ as well. It is also important for the parent to use non-verbal cues and repetition to help expedite the learning process.