4 easy ways to expand your child's vocabulary

by Anna Michaelidou

All parents want their children to do well in school and develop those all-important skills along the way to enjoy a better adult life. One way we can really help our children to succeed is to encourage them to develop their vocabulary. There are plenty of ways to do this including the most obvious which are to read to your child, encourage them to read themselves and of course to talk to your child.


Here are four more great ways to help your child expand their vocabulary:

1. Use grown-up words when having a conversation

It is very important when talking with your child to make sure you use some words that are new or words that are 'big'. It is acceptable to use words that they may not have heard before or do not know the meaning of, then explain the word you have used and try to use it again to see if your child has grasped the meaning. Encourage your child to ask if there is anything they do not understand and then explain it to them patiently. By using more difficult words in your conversations your child will pick-up new words as you use them and incorporate them into their new vocabulary.

Use this same method when reading stories or instructions to your child. Do not try to simplify or replace complex words but explain the meaning to them in descriptive ways. Children absorb everything they hear so the more you speak to your child the more they will learn naturally.

2. Allow your child to tell a story

boy reading

Reading your child bedtime stories and allowing them to read to you is a great way to expand your child's vocabulary and help them to develop their English language. Another great way is to ask your child to make-up a story to tell you. You can always give them some ideas about what kind of story to create such as suggesting a setting and an adventure; simply stimulating their imagination from a book you may have read together or making up a fairy-tale with magical fairies or wizards and witches will certainly get their imagination going.

Once your child starts the story make sure you pay attention and ask questions along the way to introduce some new words and ideas to them. Also, if you see your child is struggling you can always make some suggestions, as long as you allow your child to take the lead.

3. Play word games


There are so many games you can play with your child to help them develop their vocabulary whilst having fun. Games such as Scrabble or hang-man are great fun and allow you to explain words that your child may be unfamiliar with. There are also plenty of fun apps available to download on I-pads and tablets and children will have fun playing along to words games whilst building their vocabulary skills; great for tricking children into learning.

4. Be patient and correct mistakes cautiously

Learning can be a difficult process and one that needs patience. There will be times where children will need to hear the word repeated and the meaning reiterated before they can fully grasp the concept. Also, children may mispronounce words that are new to them which is perfectly normal. When correcting your child's mispronunciation always praise their efforts and then review the word so that they can hear it spoken correctly. Children develop at different paces so it is vital to give them as much positive feedback as possible.