3 ways to build vocabulary and reading comprehension

Copyright Betty Udesen / Pear PressHow to work on vocabulary with a 5-year-old?

1. Read a ton together. Books use a larger variety of words than we tend to use in conversation. As you’re reading, occasionally ask whether he understands. “What does the word ___ mean?” “Why did she just do that?” “What do you think might happen next?” “Remember that time when you did that same thing?”

2. Tell stories. Face-to-face interaction lights up the brain for learning language — and may be more engaging to him than books, especially if you tell him stories about his day, his life, your life before him, his relatives, etc. Community storytelling events could be fun.

3. Expand on concepts when you describe the world. (“I’m chopping the onion. If I did it like this, it would be called dicing. Or this would be mincing. What’s the difference you notice?” “You’re putting clothes in your backpack — stuffing them in!”)

Research shows that most vocabulary is learned indirectly, in these ways, rather than taught specifically.

If you have a new baby or toddler, also see this post: 3 ways to boost your baby’s language development

Fostering a love of reading is such a beautiful thing! More tips on that, by age, in Zero to Five: 70 Essential Parenting Tips Based on Science.

Copyright Betty Udesen / Pear Press
Written by

Tracy Cutchlow

Tracy is the author of the international bestseller Zero to Five: 70 Essential Parenting Tips Based on Science, a public speaker, and a creator of places to speak and be heard. Sign up for her newsletter here.

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