It is no secret that we all want our children to be able to express themselves in a variety of ways. We know that reading, writing, speaking, and listening are vital components of communicating, but have you ever really thought about the role that vocabulary plays in communication?
If you haven’t, don’t feel bad. Vocabulary, or particularly vocabulary development, is not something that we think about in our everyday lives. Sure, we encourage our children to read, knowing that the more they read, the more exposure they will have to new words. We hope that some of those new words will seep their way into their brains and maybe, just maybe, they will figure out how to use those words correctly to express themselves. But, we rarely think about how our children’s vocabularies affect the other aspects of their lives.
Saying What We Mean
If you stop and think about it, the more words that you possess, the more ways you have to express what you are thinking, feeling, or experiencing. Have you ever had an experience where you were trying to explain something to your child, and they looked at you, head cocked to the side, staring blankly? (We’ve all been there!) How do you feel when you’ve explained something in depth, and your child just can’t make sense of it? You probably feel frustrated and upset. Well, what do you do? Do you give up on your explanation? No, you find a way to explain yourself differently. You use different words, choosing words that you know your child has heard (and maybe even used) before. Eventually, after hearing the familiar words and relating what you’re saying to background knowledge that your child already possesses, they can make sense of what you are saying.
Wouldn’t it be great if your child could do the same thing? Wouldn’t it be great if, instead of having them lash out in anger and frustration, your child could use a variety of words to make their feelings known? Using one’s words to gain understanding, to earn compassion, to obtain help or support from the people around them is such an essential part of our everyday lives, and this is not a condition exclusive to adults.
Comprehending the World
We all know how important it is for our children to develop their reading comprehension skills. We know that for them to become proficient and fluent readers, that they must learn to comprehend the material that they read. By building their vocabularies, they increase their ability to grasp even the most complex texts. Without a complex vocabulary, our children will have great difficulty putting all of the pieces together. The unknown words become gaps in their understanding, they become holes in their comprehension.
When we talk about comprehension, we should not limit it merely to reading comprehension. We are expected to comprehend things throughout all areas of our lives. We must learn how to comprehend what others are saying or feeling based on their words and expressions. If we do not understand the words that a person is using, we might miss crucial information, and we might even make terrible mistakes. By helping our children improve their vocabularies, we help them comprehend the world around them.
Create Logical Thinkers
Often, people who can interpret things in a variety of ways have a significant advantage on those who cannot. They can view problems from a variety of views, and they can talk about them in a multitude of ways. Having the ability to interpret the world in varying ways gives our kids the opportunity to think critically and solve problems from several different vantage points.
People who have more extensive vocabularies have an excellent base of knowledge to integrate the information that they possess with the new information that the world is presenting to them. They can make connections, distinguish between fact and opinion, and weigh the possible outcomes. In other words, extensive vocabularies heighten our thinking skills. I think it’s safe to say that we want our children to be reasonable and logical thinkers and problem solvers.
Make a Good Impression
Finally, we all want our children to make a positive impression on the people and situations that they encounter. When they possess the breadth of words to articulate themselves, they own a power to convince people that what they have to say is valid, relevant, and valuable! We all strive to help our children make their mark on this world, and they can do it simply by using their words!
How Can OTA help YOU Increase Your Child’s Vocabulary?
During 2018 – 2019, I will be offering two different classes at Open Tent Academy that will help your child gain the vocabulary skills they need for the next level:
First, in Be Wise with Your Words: Vocabulary Study for Grades 5-6, the goal is for your child’s oral and written vocabulary to grow. During this 20-week class, students will learn the correct pronunciation, usage, and definitions of numerous sets of words. We will practice identifying and using the words in the correct context. This class is intended for grades 5 and 6.
Second, in Words for the Wise: Vocabulary Development for Grades 7-8, the goal is for your child’s oral and written vocabulary to grow. During this 20-week class, students will learn the correct pronunciation, usage, and definitions of numerous sets of words. We will practice identifying and using the words in the correct context. This class is intended for grades 7 and 8.
Charissa Vangi, M.Ed. is an educator, a curriculum writer, and a virtual teacher who has worked in the field of education for over ten years. She is a stay-at-home-mom to two little boys, ages three and five.
Charissa holds two Bachelor’s Degrees from Stockton University. The first is a degree in Criminal Justice, and the second, earned in 2007, is in Elementary Education. At the time that she received her degree in elementary education, Charissa became highly qualified and eligible to teach both mathematics and language arts at the middle school level. She earned her Masters’ Degree in Curriculum and Instruction with a concentration in elementary literacy, in December of 2016.
Since then, Charissa has entered the world of virtual education. She teaches ESL for VIP Kids working with students in China. She has also been an instructor at OTA specializing in study skills, vocabulary development and elementary social studies.