I love springtime! I think it’s the newness it brings: the bright green grass and leaves, the tiny buds just waiting to open, blue skies, rain showers and birds chirping. Spring is just so… refreshing (and maybe a bit unpredictable). Spring is a great time for outdoor activities with your child. It’s so fun to explore a world bursting with new growth! But if allergies, weather, or something else (like, I don’t know, a pandemic) keep your spring adventures indoors or at home, there are a lot of ways to share the wonders of spring with your child from the safety of your home. Spring is a wonderful time to watch the world wake up and help your child’s vocabulary take root and bloom – green thumb not required!
As a parent, you’ve probably been asked how many words your child knows (or knew by a certain age). There’s a good reason why experts like doctors and teachers pay attention to the size of your child’s vocabulary. Research tells us the number of words they know (and use) is a pretty good way to predict how your child will do in school. Children with larger vocabularies have more ways to express themselves and their ideas. The newness and beauty of spring is great chance to lift your child’s language and feed their growing vocabulary.
Lifting language is an easy way to share new words to your child by pairing them with words they already use or know. Reading with your child is the perfect time to practice this skill. When you come to a new word in a book (like squirrel or scurries), you can PAT (acronym alert!) the vocabulary as you say them to help kiddo understand what the word means.
- P – Point to the part of the picture that goes with the word (or words).
- A – Act out the word (they will love seeing you make scurrying motions with your arms or legs).
- T – Tell them what it means using words they know (a child-friendly definition).
If the story reads something like: ‘The squirrel scurries up the tree,’ you can press pause on reading for a bit and point at the squirrel as you say something like, “Look at the scurrying squirrel. It crawled up the tree so fast (using your fingers, arms or legs to act out the scurrying squirrel). You scurry like this squirrel when you crawl on the floor.”
Here are a few things you want to keep in mind when growing your child’s vocabulary this spring (and any other season):
- Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. When you give them a new word, use it more than one time and in more than one way. When your child is crawling around, you can say something like, “Look at you scurry around on the floor like a silly squirrel!”
- Don’t be afraid to use big words with your children. Just be sure to PAT the vocabulary — pair them with words they know, pictures, and gestures (like pointing to the object or spreading your arms far apart when you say ‘That’s a humungous tree’). Facial expressions can even help your child understand the new, gigantic word.
- Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. I really mean it. The more you use a new word you want them to learn, the better. When your child sees a squirrel running up a tree, take the chance to say something like, “Did you see the squirrel scurry up that humungous tree? Where do you think he’s going?” As with any new thing or skill, practice is key! That goes for their learning, too! Give them lots of chances to use their new words. Remember to tune in to when they try to use the word and show them you noticed by repeating what they said. Before you know it, they’ll use it over and over (and over and over…) again! ☺
Looking for some more learning activities to help your kiddos vocabulary bloom? Check out some more fun TALK READ PLAY suggestions in our free, downloadable springtime theme. Have fun planting those word seeds by lifting your child’s language this spring and watch them grow all year round!