Raising Bilingual Kids & Little Global Citizens

Language Development

6 Easy Ways to Improve Kids Vocabulary

Last Updated on March 25, 2024 by Bilingual Kidspot

How to Improve Vocabulary for Young Kids

Building your child’s vocabulary is important not only for bilingual children but for all children so that they develop the language skills necessary to succeed in school and beyond. Below you can find ways to improve vocabulary for kids, whether it be at home or in the classroom.

As parents we play an important role in the way they learn. Many think that there has to be a big effort, but children are learning when you don’t even realise it.

If you think you don’t have time to sit and teach your child new words, don’t worry, there are so many ways in your daily life that give your children the opportunity to learn new vocabulary and nurture their language development.

“Don’t be afraid to teach your children big words, if they can say tyrannosaurus rex they can say anything” – cinnamonssynonyms

Introduce Vocabulary when Getting Dressed 

Improve children's vocabulary - bilingual kids
Children can learn new vocabulary while doing every day activities.

You do this every day with your child, whether it be with a baby, toddler or older child this is a great way to teach new words to build their vocabulary. You can let them choose their clothes, well maybe not everything, but at least give them a choice out of a few options.

You can ask questions like “Would you like to wear jeans or track pants?” “What colour top would you like?” etc. Ask them to name each piece of clothing that they are putting on, ask them what colour it is, then ask how many socks they have, or how many buttons. It’s a good way to get them chatting. You could even label your children’s draws with something like washitape,  so they can practice reading while choosing their clothes.

Just recently I have been trying to show my pre-schooler how to see the difference between his right shoe and his left shoe when putting them on.

If you have an toddler like mine who hates getting dressed, then entertaining him can be fun. Sing a song or read a poem. Tell them what you are doing, eg “Now we are putting your nappy on” “Now we are putting your left arm in” etc. I find if I keep talking or singing he seems to keep calm MOST of the time.

Recommended Reading:
Easy ways to nurture your child’s language development from 0-6 years old

Practice Reading while Eating Breakfast

This is a great opportunity to start teaching your child to recognise letters of the alphabet and eventually learn to read. Give your child a cereal box and let him try to name each of the letters. My four year old loves this and he is getting really good at it too.

With all the different sized letters and different fonts on different boxes it’s a great way for kids to learn to read when you don’t have time to sit and read a book. And reading different types of things, introduces different types of vocabulary.

Play Word Games when Travelling in the Car

Travelling is great for learning new vocabulary, there is so much to see outside. You can talk about what you can see, all of the different transportation eg, cars, motorbikes, trucks etc. Or if you are in the countryside or mountains you can speak about what animals you can see, or what flowers etc.

A great game in the car is “I spy with my little eye” Try have your child guess what you can see by only giving the first letter of the word. “T for tree or truck” etc, and then have them try it.

See our big list of word games here

Introduce Vocabulary when Doing the Shopping

Shopping with children can be difficult, some children need to be entertained as they get bored easily. There are so many things that they can learn while you are at the supermarket. Just showing them everything you’re picking up and naming the items is teaching them without even trying.

If you’re picking up some fruit, name it and count how many pieces there are while putting them in the bag, or ask what shapes they are. Eg. an apple is round. Ask questions about certain items and have your child try to find it on the shelves.

Sing Songs when Having a Bath

Improve child's vocabulary - bilingual kids
Bath time is a great opportunity to learn new words

This is a great opportunity for kids to learn vocabulary related to body parts. You can ask your child to name each of the parts of their body, not just the easy ones eg. Leg, arm, eyes, nose etc. also teach them the parts of the leg eg. Calf, knee, thigh etc. We like to make a song out of it, pointing to their body parts as we say them. If you repeat it enough they will eventually start to repeat and use the words.

Introduce Vocabulary while Walking to School or the Nursery

This is a great chance to speak about what’s outside. Things such as different transport, eg. Cars, buses, trucks etc. Different signs, eg. Give Way, Stop, and what they mean.

This is also a good opportunity to teach them about road safety, it is never too early to teach them to walk on the footpath, and that before crossing the road they should look left and right.

Improving Kids Vocabulary

Remember, children need to hear new words many times before they will actually start using them, so don’t expect that they will just repeat them right away.

Children start to understand before they talk, so repetition is important.

These are a few great ways for kids to learn new vocabulary. By doing these simple activities with your kids on a daily basis they will eventually learn to use the new vocabulary you are teaching them.

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