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Saturday, October 24, 2009

Building a child's vocabulary in preschool

Language and literacy are important components of any preschool classroom and building a child’s vocabulary is a key component in facilitating language and literacy.


The word "vocabulary" in the preschool classroom does not mean reviewing a list of words on your classroom wall or flipping through a set of flash cards. Promoting vocabulary in the early childhood setting should be natural and fun. Let’s take a look at ways in which you can promote a child’s vocabulary in your preschool classroom.

Emphasize new words – the first thing for you to keep in mind is that every new word counts. We are not talking about searching through the dictionary for complex words. What we are talking about is emphasizing words that are part of a child’s natural environment and daily living. For example, if you are helping a child put on his or her jacket, say the word jacket often.

“I love your blue jacket. Can you say the word jacket? You have two pockets in your jacket. Your jacket is nice and warm. Where should we hang up your jacket?”

Emphasize new meanings – make new words meaningful and practical to your students. Integrate new words into your student’s play and daily experiences by using them in conversations and questions.

Emphasize feeling words – introduce words that give preschoolers a way to express their feelings and emotions. Words such as happy, sad, mad, aggravated, frustrated, tired, lonely, and enjoyable can be used in everyday conversations with your students.

Emphasize the names of objects – choose objects that are familiar and not-so-familiar to emphasize.

Emphasize the names of color, shapes, numbers, and words that rhyme, compare, or describe – Look for every opportunity to introduce and emphasize new words. Say the words clearly and a drag them out a bit for emphasis. For example:

“You have chosen to use the color green…Your hands are small and my hands are big…Hannah’s hair is long and Juan’s hair is short…the toys in this water table are wet and cold…please place your paper on the round table…you have two hands and two feet.”

Emphasize words through books and pictures – read aloud everyday, point to the words as you say them, and repeat favorite books often so that your students will become familiar with the words in print form.

Learn more about how a preschooler learns - a brief overview of developmental domains.

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