Homework Heroes: Building Vocabulary

Homework Heroes: Building Language Skills

Building vocabulary is one of the core language skill sets that schools want children to develop. Language skills are important to develop because they help the student to communicate more effectively, they help the student to engage with the learning material more effectively and they help students to understand their learning material better. Since language skills are so important, it is important for parents to invest in the development of these skills. Fortunately, there are many activities and steps that you can take to develop your child’s language skills.

Label Everything

One of the quickest and easiest way to develop your child’s vocabulary is to label everything. Having everyday items labeled helps to teach word recognition, letter recognition and reading skill development. Labels can be created using a digital label maker, using masking tape and a black marker or by using a word processor and tape.

A Word a Day

Another fun activity to develop your child’s vocabulary is to start a word-a-day tradition. Each day select a new word to learn. Each day draw a new word out of the word bag. Then find as many ways as possible to use the word. This is a great activity because it can evolve as your child gets older. When your child is young, you can use this activity to teach basic vocabulary words such as names for furniture, utensils, food items, people and pets. Then, when your child is older, the terms can be used to develop more advanced language skills which will be useful when preparing for college entrance exams.

Now that you know a couple of ways to build a vocabulary, enter the member’s only section to find a few more activities.

Word Games

Many games exist that can be used to improve and build your child’s vocabulary. For example, Pictionary, scrabble, crossword puzzles and a variety of educational video games have activities that require the use of vocabulary skills. Play these games as a family to encourage your child to develop his vocabulary.


Vocabulary is learned through exposure. An effective way to develop superior vocabulary skills is to therefore expose your child to written material that uses the types of vocabulary you are trying to develop. For example, use story books to teach basic letters, numbers and small words. To develop more advanced vocabulary skills, introduce your child to more advanced pieces of literature. Since vocabulary is acquired through exposure, make sure the vocabulary used in the books your child reads is the vocabulary you want them to use. I would recommend avoiding children’s books that use misspelled words, like “skool” instead of “school.”

Keep a Dictionary on Hand

While physical books are going out of fashion, it is a good idea to have a dictionary in some convenient format for your child to use. When a child is young, have him use the dictionary to look up words he wants to learn. Every time the child looks up a word in the dictionary, have her highlight or underline the word. As your child grows up, you can see how many words she has learned over the years. Year-by-year progress can be tracked by using a different color highlighter for each year of life. In the front of the dictionary created a legend that defines when each color was used.

Magnetic Letters and Words

Another fun way to build vocabulary skills is to utilize the low cost magnetic letters and words that are available in most educational stores and toy stores. Start out by arranging letters on the refrigerator in alphabetical order. This will teach the alphabet and letter recognition. Next spell out small words that your child is interested in saying or learning to spell. Next work your way up to larger words and phrases. Then develop simple sentences. Once your child is literate you can push this activity to the next level. For example, create a riddle on the refrigerator for your child to solve using a new vocabulary word.

For more advanced readers and spellers, use poetry magnets (found at bookstores), and work with your child to develop poems or poetic verses each day. This will teach vocabulary as well as different literary forms.

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