A child should start school at the age of 5 years with a vocabulary of 3,000 to 4,000 words. This way they will be able to learn to read quicker. And, they will be able to converse with their fellow pupils and their teachers much easier.
As this article shows us:
Children who acquire a substantial vocabulary are often able to think more deeply, express themselves better, and learn new things more quickly. They are also very likely to be successful not only learning to read, but also in reading at or above grade level throughout their school years. Research shows that children who reach school age with smaller vocabularies, less depth in prior knowledge and background experiences, and fewer experiences with hearing stories and exploring with print are more likely to have significant problems in learning to read. We know now that if we boost children's language and literacy experiences early in life, later difficulties can be alleviated or even avoided.
So, how can you as parents and grandparents help build your child’s vocabulary? Here are some tips:
Talk about things that interest your child and this will help them want to use words to discuss the subject with you.
A child needs to hear a word repeated often before they will use it. One of the best ways to do this is to use a word in different situations or formats. The more familiar the child becomes with the word they quicker they will develop an understanding of it and the more likely they will be to use it.
Give your child time to reflect and speak. Don’t get carried away talking yourself. Engage in a conversation that is balanced and one where your child can express his or her ideas and ask questions.
When you introduce new words do so in the context of words your child already knows. So if you are going to bring in the new ‘wasp’, you could talk about how they get around like flies but they sting like bees.
Use actions to add further meaning to your words. If you are going to discuss a cat’s behaviour you could meow and pretend to clean your whiskers. If you are talking about driving down a busy road, mime holding the steering wheel and indicating.
If you are introducing feeling words you might like to remind the child of a time when they felt the same way. If you were introducing joyfulness, for example, you could remind the child of a time when they were very happy like at birthday party, for example. If it’s a word you are not sure they can relate to tell them a time when you felt that way, “When I started school I was so nervous I couldn’t eat my lunch!”