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How to Increase the Vocabulary of Elementary Students

by Susan Revermann, studioD

Reading, writing and word recognition are all important aspects of a child’s learning and development during the elementary school years. There are several approaches you can take to increasing your student's vocabulary. Whether you want to take a fun or serious approach is up to you.


Reading is one of the top ways to increase a child’s vocabulary. Stick to any allotted school library time you have or you can pick out some books at the bookstore to bring into class to share with the students. Show them the sections of the library that contain books that are at their reading level. Even comic books work for kids that are hesitant to pick up a regular book; at least they're reading. To encourage frequent reading, set a designated daily reading homework. Suggest to the parents that maybe they should sit with their child and the two of them can have family read time.


If a student doesn’t understand a word, don’t just tell him what it means -- show him how to look it up in a dictionary. Also point out that the synonyms and antonyms that accompany the words so he can make the connection between them. Instruct the students to write down difficult words or spelling list words on note cards for easy reference.


Make learning fun with some vocabulary games. Good ol’ Hangman is a sure winner and can incorporate the whole class as they take turns guessing a letter. Have Scrabble Jr. handy in the classroom to pump his vocab knowledge. There are plenty of online vocabulary and spelling games for your students to play, too. You may want to find some that you like and send a list home with your students for reference.

Quality Interactions

Teachers and parents are both invaluable sources of vocabulary lessons for the children. Engage your students in some in-depth discussions and suggest that the parents do the same. Ask questions that involve more than a “yes” or “no” answer. Recommend to the parents that they should inquire about school projects, current topics or recent field trips. Quality discussions will engage the students' thinking and require their full attention. Ask thought-provoking questions and patiently wait for a response. Keep an open mind and explore how each child thinks. Avoid talking down to the children or treating them as if they are still a toddlers.


About the Author

Susan Revermann is a professional writer with educational and professional experience in psychology, research and teaching. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Washington in psychology, focused on research, motivational behavior and statistics. Revermann also has a background in art, crafts, green living, outdoor activities and overall fitness, balance and well-being.

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