Marianas Variety Guam Edition – The Local and Regional Newspaper

12 23Fri11282014

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Back Helping Your Child Succeed Help your children develop their language skills

Help your children develop their language skills

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ACCORDING to the American Speech, Language and Hearing Association, strong language skills are very important to children’s school success.

However, many parents may not be aware of this nor the important role they play in their children’s language development. Research on vocabulary development shows that children learn most vocabulary words indirectly through everyday experiences with oral and written language, such as: hearing words through conversations with adults, being read to, and reading on their own. Parents can help their children expand their vocabularies in the following ways:

Talk. Talk to your children constantly. Children learn language and increase their vocabularies by listening to the people around them. The richer, and more abundant the language they hear daily, the more developed their own language will be. So, engage your children by asking questions, explaining things and adding new ideas. Try to use full sentences and lots of different words.

Show and tell. Whenever you and your children go somewhere, bring a memento back home. Then have a show-and-tell when the family is together. Let your children tell everybody about their experience.

Give it a name. Treat every new experience your child has as an opportunity to learn new words. When you and your child visit the nursery to pick out new plants for the garden, talk about the different items associated with planting like soil, fertilizer and nutrients. When you make a new recipe, talk about woks, peanut oil, water chestnuts and pea pods.

Set aside a regular time for children to read every day. Studies show that reading on a regular basis will improve children’s language skills and produce significant gains in vocabulary knowledge. So whether your children are preschoolers or teenagers, reading to them or reading with them is a beneficial experience.

Parents can:

Read aloud to children every day. Children learn word meanings from listening to adults read to them. Reading aloud is particularly helpful when the reader pauses during the reading to define an unfamiliar word and engages the child in a conversation about the book after the reading. Conversations about books help children to learn new words and concepts.

Have children read extensively on their own. Children learn many new words by reading on their own. The more children read on their own, the more words they encounter and the more word meanings they learn.

Surround children with reading material. Have a large array of reading material in your home such as a large supply of appealing books and magazines at their reading level. Put the reading materials in cars, bathrooms, bedrooms, family rooms and even by the TV.

Encourage a wide variety of reading activities. Have children read menus, roadside signs, board game directions and other practical everyday information. Also, make sure they always have something to read in their spare time like when they are waiting for appointments.

Develop the library habit. Entice your children to read more by taking them to the library every few weeks to get new reading materials. The library also offers reading programs for children of all ages that may appeal to your children and further increase their interest in reading.

By engaging in daily oral language activities, parents teach their children many new and interesting words. The more oral language experiences children have, the more word meanings they learn. When children know the meanings of many vocabulary words, they can communicate their wants, needs and ideas more effectively, read more difficult books and stories, learn new things much better, and be more successful in school.


Elizabeth Hamilton, M.Ed., MA, is a teacher with 25 years of professional experience. You can write to her at successfullearner[at]yahoo.com with your questions or comments.

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