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  • Writer's pictureAlison McDonald

Vast​ ​Vocab?

Did​ ​you​ ​know​ ​that​ ​​a​ ​typical​ ​4-year​ ​old​ ​will​ ​have​ ​about​ ​1,500-1,600​ ​words​ ​in​ ​their vocabulary?​ ​By​ ​kindergarten,​ ​an​ ​average​ ​language​ ​learner​ ​has​ ​between​ ​2,100​ ​and 2,200​ ​words.​ ​Six​ ​year​ ​olds​ ​typically​ ​use​ ​around​ ​2,600​ ​words​ ​but​ ​can​ ​understand between​ ​20,000-24,000​ ​words.​ ​By​ ​the​ ​time​ ​a​ ​child​ ​is​ ​12​ ​years​ ​old,​ ​she​ ​or​ ​he​ ​will understand​ ​about​ ​50,000​ ​words.​ ​That’s​ ​a​ ​lot​ ​of​ ​word-learning!

Building​ ​a​ ​robust​ ​vocabulary​ ​is​ ​vital​ ​for​ ​school​ ​success.​ ​This​ ​will​ ​prepare​ ​them​ ​for​ ​the language​ ​of​ ​learning​ ​and​ ​give​ ​them​ ​a​ ​foundation​ ​for​ ​reading​ ​and​ ​writing.​ ​So​ ​what words​ ​should​ ​a​ ​child​ ​know​ ​when​ ​starting​ ​school?

Think​ ​about​ ​the​ ​words​ ​we​ ​use​ ​as​ ​adult​ ​speakers,​ ​the​ ​high​ ​frequency​ ​words​ ​that pepper​ ​our​ ​conversation​ ​and​ ​can​ ​be​ ​used​ ​in​ ​any​ ​setting.​ ​These​ ​are​ ​words​ ​that​ ​are very​ ​hard​ ​to​ ​show​ ​in​ ​a​ ​picture.​ ​Words​ ​such​ ​as​ ​​coincidence,​ ​absurd,​ ​industrious​​ ​are more​ ​common​ ​than​ ​you​ ​think.​ ​Teaching​ ​these​ ​words​ ​to​ ​your​ ​child​ ​will​ ​add​ ​to​ ​his​ ​or her​ ​language​ ​ability.

If​ ​you​ ​want​ ​to​ ​know​ ​where​ ​to​ ​start,​ ​pick​ ​up​ ​some​ ​well-written​ ​children’s​ ​books.​ ​For example,​ ​the​ ​picture​ ​book​ ​​Room​ ​on​ ​the​ ​Broom​​ ​(by​ ​Julia​ ​Donaldson)​ ​is​ ​brought​ ​alive by​ ​words​ ​such​ ​as​ ​​whined,​ ​clambered,​ ​ear-splitting,​ ​eagerly,​ ​flutter.​​ ​When​ ​reading together,​ ​point​ ​out​ ​these​ ​words​ ​and​ ​give​ ​your​ ​child​ ​a​ ​“child-friendly​ ​definition”.​ ​For example,​ ​“​Clambered​​ ​means​ ​to​ ​climb​ ​on​ ​or​ ​over​ ​something.​ ​It’s​ ​what​ ​you​ ​do​ ​when you​ ​get​ ​up​ ​onto​ ​mum​ ​and​ ​dad’s​ ​bed.​ ​You​ ​clambered​ ​on​ ​my​ ​bed​ ​this​ ​morning.”

Does​ ​your​ ​little​ ​person​ ​have​ ​a​ ​vast​ ​vocab?​ ​Are​ ​they​ ​ready​ ​for​ ​the​ ​vocabulary​ ​they will​ ​need​ ​when​ ​starting​ ​school?​ ​​Read​ ​more​ ​about​ ​how​ ​to​ ​build​ ​your​ ​child’s vocabulary.

Newcastle​ ​Speech​ ​Pathology​ ​can​ ​work​ ​with​ ​you​ ​to​ ​show​ ​you​ ​how​ ​to​ ​develop​ ​your child’s​ ​language​ ​skills.​ ​Call​ ​us​ ​to​ ​discuss​ ​your​ ​child’s​ ​progress​ ​and​ ​book​ ​an appointment​ ​for​ ​your​ ​child’s​ ​language​ ​and​ ​literacy​ ​assessment. Stahl,​ ​Stephen​ ​A.​ ​(1999).​ ​Vocabulary​ ​development.​ ​Brookline,​ ​MA:​ ​Brookline​ ​Books.

Written by Alison Speech Pathologist Newcastle Speech Pathology

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