8 Fun Ways to Build a Child's Vocabulary

How to Teach a Preschooler New Words and Establish Early Reading Skills

Before a child of any age can learn to read, he or she needs to have a good, well-rounded understanding of basic words and what they mean. And while that may sound a bit overwhelming, there are very easy ways that you can build a preschooler's vocabulary and introduce early reading concepts. In fact, you probably do a whole lot of them normally, throughout the course of your day or week without even noticing it. From reading aloud to your preschooler to simply engaging in conversation, you are helping your little one learn words--how they work, what they mean, how they are the same, how they are different, and much, much more!

Parents can help with language skills even when their child has speech delays. In fact, the more that parents do to help children overcome challenges, the better prepared the child will be for kindergarten. Parents of children with disorders such as autism, apraxia of speech, and stuttering issues may want to consult with a speech therapist before getting started. Often, therapists can recommend effective techniques for building spoken and receptive language skills.

Here are some easy and fun vocabulary-building activities that you can do every day that will help you teach your child new words.


Loving the Library

increase your preschooler's vocabulary
Visiting the library with your preschooler is a great way to expose them to new words. JGI/Tom Grill/Blend Images/Getty Images

If you are looking for a great place to start building your preschooler's vocabulary and early reading skills, look no further than your local library. If you aren't sure what to do when you get there, try these tips or ask your librarian for help. Just being around a place where there are a lot of books and literary references will go a long way to helping your preschooler feel comfortable about reading. 


Synonym Substitute

An easy way to introduce your child to new words is to use them yourself. After all, you are your child's first and best role model. Learn how to become a walking thesaurus and why when it comes to preschool vocabulary building, enormous is always better than big!


Learning and Reinforcing the Alphabet

Sing the ABC song provides children who are learning the alphabet with some reinforcement and confidence. The bonus: it's a great way to keep your preschooler busy on long car rides, in waiting rooms, or while waiting on lines.


Use Descriptive Words

When it comes to increasing your child's vocabulary, more is better. The more words that your child hears on a daily basis, the more she'll learn, absorb and eventually put to use herself. For example, when describing a fabric pattern, try using words such as unusual, relaxing, or creative. These words may be beyond a toddler's understanding right now, but by using them in context you'll make them more comprehensible.


Become a Label Maker

If you want your preschooler to learn more words, then make it easy. Say them often, sure, but show them too. Build on her basic comprehension of well-known words by labeling all of these commonly-used items so she learns to recognize what the word looks like.


Become a Super Sorter

Seeing is learning when it comes to introducing new words. Teaching your preschooler how to sort and categorize will help their logical thinking and build their vocabulary. A good way to help preschoolers learn new words is to take what they are hearing and help them to visualize it. Use flashcards or cut pictures out of magazines for this game.


Rhyme Time

The fat cat sat on the mat. The white kite flew at night. How many rhyming words can your preschooler come up with? Rhyming is not only fun to do but is an easy way to get your child to think about how words can relate to each other.


Reading Aloud Together

How often do you read aloud to your little one? Reading aloud, besides being a wonderful way to spend quality time with your preschooler, is also a perfect way to expose them to new words. And the beauty is, if they don't understand something, you can always explain it to them. Choose books that are of interest to your preschooler but that use words that are slightly above their understanding. Together you can work through what they mean, by using context—the other words on the page and any pictures that might be on the page as well. 

Continue Working With Your Pre-Reader!

As you can see, increasing your child's vocabulary isn't difficult, but it is necessary as they begin their journey to reading. In some cases, such as taking your child to the library or labeling items in your home, preplanning is required. But for the most part, helping your child learn and incorporate new words is just a natural part of your day. Enjoy and happy teaching!

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