How to Improve Your Child’s Vocabulary in Primary School: Part 1 of 2

Little girl reads a book with a teddy bear.

It can feel like a challenging task when trying to help your child improve their vocabulary, especially if your child isn’t the biggest fan of literacy.

However, as a parent, the chances are that you will want to do all that you can to help set them up on the right track, and you know that the hard work will pay off eventually.

As you’ll already know, building an enriched vocabulary doesn’t end when school does. It is a lifelong endeavour to improve one’s command of the English language.

There are plenty of ways you can go about this. If you’re in the process of preparing your child for the 11+ exams, you’ll find these tips helpful. And even if your child isn’t doing the 11 plus exams, these tips will still be a very effective way of building on the vocabulary your child already has. 

In this post, we’ll be breaking down the following three ways you can help your child in expanding their vocabulary:

  • Introducing your child to new words
  • The importance of reading books
  • Using flashcards 

How to Introduce Your Child to New Words

Close-up of an Opened Dictionary showing the Word WORD

There’s nothing quite like piquing the curiosity of an inquisitive child. This may sound exclusive or elitist, but in reality, it’s not. It’s inclusive.

Most children are curious and have a natural desire to explore and learn, so introducing your child to new words is one major way of improving their vocabulary. To do this is quite straightforward and can be achieved in several ways:

  1. Introducing your child to a ‘new word’ bank. You can do this by looking at the vocabulary book range in the Geek School shop to help your child to build their confidence and knowledge of words. These words may be adjectives, connectives, synonyms or unfamiliar words as well. A fun way to make this task more creative, you can fill a jar with strips of paper with different words written on them. Then at the start of the week, your child can choose three new words of the week which they can memorise and practice.
  2. Another way you can introduce your child to new words is by speaking in the way you normally would, as an adult. While it can be helpful to water down or substitute the ‘adult’ words you normally use to make them more child-friendly, you should consider doing things differently. Instead of looking for alternative words when speaking to your child, you can help your child to learn new words by speaking to them the way you do to adults. That way, when you mention a word they are unfamiliar with, you can discuss its meaning to help your child to improve their vocabulary.
  3. Encourage your child to use a thesaurus to help them learn new words that are related to words they already know. When your child is practicing their writing or completing their literacy homework, keeping a thesaurus and dictionary on hand will encourage them to use the new words they discover, too.
Kid sitting at desk and reading book

The Importance of Reading Books

Readers are writers, and this is a common phenomenon. So naturally, if you’re setting out to help your child to expand their vocabulary, you will want to expose them to materials that will introduce new words to them. Reading books is an activity and habit that will help in the long run and help them become more accustomed to the writing styles of other writers. Examples can include magazines, billboards, newspapers, fiction books, leaflets etc.

If you find that your child is an auditory learner, you can also allow them to listen to audiobooks. So long as they are immersed in material that exposes them to new words, then you’re well on your way!

Using Flashcards to Help Your Child’s Vocabulary

Though this tip is particularly helpful when preparing your child for their 11 plus exams, it can also be used in this scenario as your child will learn new words. For younger children, you can use flashcards with an image with a word to match, which is great for visual learners!

For older children, you can use flashcards like the ones we have in our Vital Words Dictionary. Your child can work through them independently – or you can use them together to make it even more fun!

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