How To Expand Your Childs Vocabulary

"One forgets words as one forgets names. One's vocabulary needs constant fertilizing or it will die."
-Evelyn Waugh

One of the biggest mysteries in evolution is how, when and why language developed.
The closest we can get to answer this question is by understanding the biggest tool for our survival- Unity. We survived, not because we were the strongest, but because we had the ability to coordinate and corporate and get hundreds and thousands of people to carry out their part in achieving a goal.
And for that, we needed some form of communication. Maybe the tribes back then associated certain sounds with certain meanings. They used sounds to coordinate and carry out tasks.
Most of human evolution and civilization are tied down by the very idea of communication and language that it isn't surprising that we got so good at it. So good that learning words and forming sentences are the basics of education, even in the modern-day.

Why We Need To Learn Words

  1. Words empower us in a very fundamental way. Words are our most transparent and concrete tool for self-expression. Without words, we would have no means to convey who we are, what we want and what we feel. If the purpose of words is limited to the transaction of wants, why do we need so many words? Why are vocabulary and eloquence essential?

  2. Human beings are more dynamic than we understand ourselves to be. We dwell on assumptions and subjectivity so much that it becomes essential for us to have a very wide range of words to express ourselves. To say that I feel good or that I don't feel good is not nearly enough to tell us how we feel. We need more words. Excited, thrilled, joyful, alright, exuberant. This is how we gain self-expression. Eloquence and vocabulary are not about making beautiful sentences but about gaining self-expression by having a range of words that does justice to one's position.

  3. On top of that, we need to establish a context, we need to help another person visualize a scenario and we need to convince people around us to cooperate with us in order to live a sociologically fulfilling life.

  4. Man is a social animal. And the society is stitched together by meaning. And words are essentially what helps us convey meaning.

Our need to learn words, make sentences, use them to communicate our emotions and condition exists for a reason. Our ability and need to be articulate have their own sociological reasons.

How Children Learn Words

It is interesting how intelligence works. How do you think a child learns words and the meanings associated with them? When a child hears the word 'Apple', how does the child know what an Apple is? Do we teach a child every single word by intention, or is there a natural process to it?

When presented with a novel word, a child starts deducting the factors in their environment by observing where the person (most often, a parent) is looking at, pointing towards, or holding in their hand. The same way when a parent says, "Get me the yellow cube", the child has no idea what color yellow is, what colors mean, or what the word yellow even means. And hence they start seeking indications and support from their environment. A child slowly learns to structure these words together to convey something and meet their needs. With every need that they meet, they are encouraged to learn more, communicate more, and hence learn more and more words. Here is where human beings earn to establish a relation with vocabulary and self-expression.

How A Parent Can Motivate A Child To Enhance Their Vocabulary

  • Communicate Effectively

    As a parent, it is natural for you to want to make communication with your child as easy as possible. Parents often choose to use easily understandable nicknames to identify with bigger concepts or big words. Do you have an easy and meaningless word for water, shower, food, and sleep? This is cute but experts suggest that the more real you keep the communication with a child, the better and more they learn. A child's mind is naturally inquisitive and has no resistance to learning. This is the best time to introduce a child to new words. It is true that having your code-words with the child will actively increase your relationship with the child, but do focus on introducing a child to new words every day.

  • Encourage The Child To Narrate Their Day Or Thoughts To You

    Ask a child questions that make them explain their ideas. If they say that they like a certain food ask them what they like about it. Ask them questions about how they feel and how much they feel something. Encourage them to be more dynamic and ask them what they mean when they say something. Being good at listening and initiating interesting conversations with your child is in itself a great tool to help them with vocabulary.

  • Encourage Bilingual Cognition

    Whatever language you generally use to communicate in the house, your child will not face any problems understanding and learning that language. But if you speak a native language like Malayalam or Tamil, it is very good for a child's growth to help them learn new words in English and vice versa. For this, encourage a child to watch cartoons in English. Watch these shows with them and talk about them. See how they respond to jokes. Encourage them to ask questions about words that they do not understand.

  • Encourage Reading And Explaining

    We know that telling stories to children has multiple benefits. Parents often narrate beautiful stories with morals and great endings to their children. This helps a child to imagine and understand the life around them better. But have you ever considered flipping this process? Next time, ask your child to read a story and narrate that to you. Or one parent can narrate a story to the child and the child can narrate it to the other parents. This way, a child first learns a story, remembers it, and breaks it down to give it a meaning, and reconstructs it using words of their own. This process is great to learn new words and language in general.

A parent can also encourage a child to learn at least 5 new words and encourage them to use them in everyday life. Just generally making sure that the child keeps communicating to the parent and is encouraged to learn to speak better will make sure that the child consistently enhances their vocabulary.