Building up vocabulary for the younger child

Extend his vocabulary and encourage him to learn new words

Children do not learn language just by hearing it around them. They have to communicate and interact for that to happen. The idea is to keep your child interested in words and talking so speak in the same sort of sentences your child does - keep them short and simple for the younger age group particularly but sometimes speak in sentences slightly longer than his to help build up his vocabulary. For instance, if he looks at a picture and says 'that's a car,' you could repeat his word and add an adjective such as red. When he is used to that you could introduce a word for size, such as big or small and gently introduce him to noticing details about what he sees. 'That is a big red car with four doors.'

Once he is really observing a picture, or an outdoor scene, you can ask him to tell you the exact details of what he sees and/or hears, encouraging him to use words that are very accurate. Concentrating in this fashion and talking about his observations is a very useful pre-reading skill as he is actually decoding the picture in the same way that reading requires the decoding of letters and symbols. Additionally, if he is able to concentrate and focus on this sort of a task he will be lowering the demands on his speech and feel more relaxed, so his stammering may be less severe in that situation. This will build his confidence in talking.

As your child develops more vocabulary and is starting to read independently encourage him to notice how words are used, to explore different ways of describing what is happening in a story, and to comment on the behavior and attitude of the characters.

Use words to explain activities and situations

In the Early Years of primary school, he will be quite receptive to your involvement, so if you are busy on a task, talk to him about what you are doing. This chatting encourages the child to think about what he sees and to make comments himself. Messages about language use, prepositions for example, may be conveyed as objects are picked up, described and put away in cupboards, on tables etc. You can also notice sounds made by everyday activities like pans simmering, a hammer on metal, and the difference between loud and quiet sounds heard.

He is hearing language then as you work and will be absorbing the message that words can tell you interesting things that you want to know. He may copy the idea, perhaps by explaining what he is doing to another person or even a toy if he is quite young as he plays. Play word games and encourage older family members to join in and show how interesting words are so that his curiosity to learn them is provided for.


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