Vocabulary plays an important part in learning to read. Beginning readers must use the words they hear out loud to make sense of the words they see in print. Children who have a wide vocabulary learn to read more easily as they can figure out unfamiliar words based on the knowledge of words related to the context. It is harder for a beginning reader to figure out words that are not already part of their speaking vocabulary.
Consider this: when your little one starts learning to read and comes to the word cat in a book. She begins to figure out the sounds represented by the letters c – a – t and then very quickly realises that the sounds make up a very familiar word that she has heard and said many times. Thus the instant recognition is quicker and her recall of this word is better as she has the association reading strategy to use: all because the word is in her speaking vocabulary. Imagine now that there are hundreds of words in your child’s vocabulary so by the time learning to read comes along it is plain sailing. That’s what all parents want so BUILD VOCABULARY and you will BUILD A READER.
Vocabulary also is very important to reading comprehension. Readers cannot understand what they are reading without knowing what most of the words mean. Therefore the more words a reader knows, the more they are able to understand what they’re reading or listening to.
Talking to and reading to children are the two best way to develop vocabulary. As you introduce new words to your children, keep this in mind:
- Define the word in a child friendly manner: for e.g. ’enormous’ means really really big.
- Relate the word to the child’s life experience, ‘remember the big watermelon we bought in the shop, it was enormous’
- Ask children to develop their own example of ‘enormous’
- Use the word ‘enormous’ often over the next few weeks
Parents please continue to read to your child long past the time they learn to read. The reason is that a parent is the fluent reader and can read vocabulary-rich text that a grade 1 learner is not yet able to read but is able to listen to and understand. Just because your child has starting reading, do not stop reading to him or her.
Conversations are vital for vocabulary development, which in turn is one of the keys to unlocking reading. Are we talking enough to our children or are our hectic driven lifestyles and too much screen time creating an environment with less one on one dialogue between parent and child?
With this in mind consider the following: The consequence of less verbal interaction between adult and child is a child with reduced vocabulary and the consequence of that is a poor reader! No parent wants that so I will say it again, BUILD VOCABULARY and you will BUILD A READER.