Remember how excited you were when your child spoke her first word? Your baby understood many words before she was able to express language. Expressive language always follows receptive language. As children read, they begin the process of building a lexicon of words they know and are able to use. The benefits of building vocabulary skills are numerous: It improves auditory and reading comprehension, it enhances language development, in adults it improves processing speed, and it helps us communicate our ideas better both verbally and in writing. There is research that suggests that a person’s vocabulary level is the best prediction of occupational success. But, the most important part of building a lexicon of words is that new words must be used regularly and habitually. When they are used comfortably in writing or in conversation they become a part of one’s own lexicon.  

There are fun and simple ways you can help your child grow their lexicon. 

  • Read a broad spectrum of material and pay special attention to the vocabulary used in each subject. 

  • Play board games such as Scrabble.

  • Post a “word of the day” and challenge each family member to use the word 3 or more times during the day. 

  • Keep a family log of new words and review them weekly.

The postscript message I would leave is that as you help your children focus on building new vocabulary, you will begin to find that your own lexicon of words grow. Words are ubiquitous and you can know them all!