Pre-Reading Skills Focus: Vocabulary


A series on the pre-reading skills needed for preschoolers to become successful readers.

Welcome to the Pre-Reading Skills Focus Series!  This will be a 6-part series, because six pre-reading skills will be focused on individually!  This is the third post in the 6 part series, find the other posts here:

 Print Motivation

Narrative Skills

Part 2 is here: Pre-Reading Skills Focus: Vocabulary

What is Vocabulary?

Knowing the names and connecting them to the objects, concepts and feelings within the world.

Receptive Vocabulary: Understanding the meaning of the word being spoken and connecting it to an object, feeling or concept.

Expressive Vocabulary: Speaking a word and connecting it to an object, feeling or concept.

Vocabulary is important to reading because knowing and understanding the meaning of words translates into comprehending the text.  Just because a child can sound-out a word, does not mean that they know or understand the meaning and therefore the meaning of  reading is lost.

vocab skills

To help foster Vocabulary in your children, here are some ideas for multiple age groups:

Infants & Young Toddlers

-Talk about objects in your environment.  Label the things that he/she touches- (example: that is your cup, drink from your cup)

-When reading simple board books, point to pictures and name them.

-Once your child is mobile, ask him/her to go and get a familiar object only by using it's name (no pointing).  This may show you what your child knows!

-Read lots of different stories, as each book has different vocabulary words in them.

-Make different faces to show different emotions and label them.

-Make a photo book of family members and name each person.

-Name animals and make thier animal sound.

-Name body parts by making it a fun game in the bath.

-Talk, talk, talk to your baby!  This helps build up vocabulary and an understanding of the world around them.  Later, when words come they will have a lots of words they already understand and will be able to speak them more easily!

Toddlers (2 & 3 year olds)

-Read children’s books to your child.  Point out pictures as you read and name them.  If the book is familiar, ask your child to name the picture you point to.

-Narrate everything in your life.  If your toddler is in the room as you are baking a cake, explain all the steps to him/her.  Don't assume that he or she will be bored or is too young to understand.  This is how children learn!

-As your child begins to understand a certain word, teach them a synomyn of that word.  For example: your child knows the word big- now start using large, huge, tall, ect.

-Read lots of different books to gain access to different words.  For example, at our house, we may never come in contact with a Stingray.  But, through a book children can learn to associate a word with the picture in the book.

-Name family members and friends- talk about whether they are boys or girls.

-Show children non-fiction books as well. The text may not be appropriate for the age, but helping children see real life pictures of animals and objects helps them see that a mouse in real life doesn't necessarily look like Mickey.

Pre-Readers (4 & 5 year olds)

-Read aloud often.  A switch from simple text books (such as board books) to paperback preschool stories may be needed.

-When reading, stop and explain any words that your child may not know the meaning of.

-Use 'rare' words to help build vocabulary through everyday conversations.

-Encourage your child to ask about a word when he/she doesn't understand what the word means.

-When your child tells you a story or talks about the day, expand on their thoughts and add descriptive words.

-Add non-fiction books to your home library in subjects that interest your child.

-Create a time during circle time to focus on new words- we have a monthly words chart and we name the pictures (see above).

Do you have any suggestions for fostering Narrative Skills in young children.  Please leave a comment below.