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Mary Did You Know



Improve Your Child's Vocabulary

Back to School Features

While a fondness for reading can come naturally, for some children, it can be difficult to get started. Now that school is starting, you can encourage a love of reading - and help expand your child's vocabulary as they grow using these simple tips.

For Young Children
Even very young children can begin to learn new words. Be mindful of talking to them and teaching them the names of objects you encounter each day. Whether you're running errands, or making dinner, explain to them what you're doing and they're sure to pick up on new vocabulary words.
Read often. Simply the act of reading to your child on a regular basis - such as prior to bedtime - can really help to encourage a fondness for reading, as well as improve their vocabulary. Don't be afraid to stop and explain difficult words to them. Keep your child engaged by asking them to describe different words as you go along.
Draw and describe. Ask your child to draw a photo of events that happened throughout their day and to describe each part of the picture. Even very young children will be able to put together a narrative of their daily activities. Storytelling will challenge them to remember the names of certain objects, people and places.
Engage on the go. When you're out running errands, ask your child to describe different objects they can see from the car, such as people, animals, buildings, parks, etc. In this way, you can help them recognize colors, as well as build upon their vocabulary.

For Older Children
Once your child is learning their letters and beginning to read full sentences, you can really begin to encourage their vocabulary.

Label it. As your child begins to learn to read on their own you can look to items around the house to help support their education. Use index cards or sticky notes to label household items such as "bath tub," "door" and "floor."

Make it fun. One great way to encourage reading is to get your child involved in vocabulary building and letter recognition. Give your child vocabulary games such as flash cards and word searches that will help further encourage your child to read. Find activities and ideas via "Kidsville News!" and a new word search at each month.
Visit the library. Enroll your child in a reading program at your local library. Make sure they are exposed to new books, which will help them continue to develop an extensive vocabulary.

Research books. To make sure you know what your child is reading, look to sites that offer suggested book listings for children of various ages such as and

Ask for a story. Just as a drawing can help encourage your child to build storytelling abilities so too can writing their very own stories. Start by asking them to write a few sentences about their favorite pet, a neighbor, or a family member. You can also encourage them to write letters to grandparents, aunts, uncles and friends as well.

For more educational activities and book recommendations to help expand your child's vocabulary, check out "Kidsville News!" in your area or online at

Photo courtesy of Getty Images



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