Kids aren’t the only ones who get lazy when it comes to using vocabulary. We adults too use fewer words than we could because we are in the habit of being concise or factual or reaching for the nearest word we can recall in haste. Language, with all its variety and texture, is a day to day opportunity to enrich a child’s imagination - remembering to be articulate in every day speech, (my son is always ready to point out my lack of effort when I point at things or trail off before the end of a sentence), - thank goodness we have a book at bedtime to make up for my short comings!
The words we choose as parents are great opportunities to build a child’s vocabulary their learning ability and their manners. We can help them imagine better and offer them a variety of choices in how they can start to view the world. It is a good goal for us as adults to use our language at more of its capacity than we may do.
How can we go about challenging our children to expand their vocabulary by using a Thesaurus? Here we intend to outline a few ideas.
1. Get creative and give kids a sense of freedom
Encouraging kids to go further and to expect more of themselves, starts by engaging them with processes of diversifying the words they use - spoken and written. Language and the context of words evolve. And our children are mostly at the forefront of these shifts. With my teenage son it is a two way road - him teaching me as much as me sharing new words with him. When we can, we explore synonyms and antonyms of words in the thesaurus to experiment with the possibilities of change and nuance in a sentence. Write a sentence and then edit it - changing a descriptive word or verb. Adding a sense adventure when using new words will make kids feel comfortable and more curious and confident to try them. I remember the time my son first used the word ‘mystery’ as he popped up out of the swimming pool with misty googles. “Mum, it has all gone mystery”. It was a memorable moment to explain that word to him.
2. Expect Yourself to Be Better
Children learn by imitating those around them, and they will undoubtedly call us on it if we are not practising what we preach. Showing, instead of telling, helps children learn faster. Word calendars and simple post it notes around the home that introduce new vocabulary are easy, memorable and fun ways to expand vocabulary, discover less common words together and learn spellings.
3. Tickle the imagination and make words up
Encouraging an interest is the number one way to motivate a child. It can be hard to be spot on with the context of new words - so help by providing plenty of examples if words in sentences. Compounding words together to make up nonsense words - like Disney do - adds funs and engagement. A simple game that’s easy for a journey will build up confidence and a sense of adventure with words.
Conclusion; words become alive and real when they get used. Boost a love of words in your child so they have the resources they need to express themselves fully and with flair.
So many words to say things differently!