Growing Your Child’s Vocabulary

Growing Your Child's Vocabulary

Nuria from the The Adventures Archive is here today to share useful tips for helping our children develop a strong vocabulary so that they can better express their ideas and share them with the world.

Children’s imagination is powerful and surprising. It is able to create fantastic worlds and develop their abstract minds for hours. However, Charles Chaplin was right when he said “imagination means nothing without doing”. Imagination, per se, produces only dreams. If we want our dreams to turn into reality the first thing we need to do is to express them in an idea. And for that, we need words.

We often hear kids complaining that they are not able to express something they’re thinking, some dream they had or something they’ve learned. It is most frustrating for them (think about how hopeless you feel when you can’t make yourself understood in a foreign country), so increasing their vocabulary is important to improve their communication capacities and boost their self-esteem.

Also, a kid that can properly express himself will find it easier to understand his feelings and emotions. Those “something’s going on but I don’t know how to explain it” moments that all parents hear at least once start to decrease when their little brains are able to find the right words.

To help you with this, here you have three useful ideas:

1. Try to not scale down your language too much when you are talking to your kids: we don’t go by “vroom vroom”, we go by car. We don’t have a “woof woof”, we have a Bulldog. That is not “boo boo”, it “hurts”. Even if they sound adorable when they make mistakes or when they misplace words try to always correct them nicely.

2. When playing with them, try to broaden the stimuli you use instead of using “children only” material all the time. A good example is this website, for instance.

3. If your child can read don’t rush to explain to him the meaning of new words. Buy him a good dictionary and make him search for the definition. Forget the Internet. The slower process that comes with the physical search is more effective for remembering new word meanings.

Growing Your Child's Vocabulary

And finally, a tool for you to try, the word jar.

Find a jar; (you can also use a box) and label it “words”. Every time your child comes in contact with a new word, make him write it on a piece of paper and put it inside the jar. You could also do this with the second language they are learning at school. Carry the jar with you on those occasions where you have to sit for long hours (at the doctors, when traveling…), or save it for a rainy day.

Ask your child to take out one word and to try to form a sentence with it. With practice words become familiar, and we can throw the learned slips of papers away and substitute them with new ones. Easy, fun and really effective.

Growing Your Child's Vocabulary

Do you use other techniques to help increase your kid’s vocabulary? Drop me a comment, I would love to hear them!

Nuria Pérez Paredes is a creative director who worked in advertising for many years. She currently teaches creative thinking techniques in schools and helps families improve their parenthood skills by finding them creative ideas and new, different solutions. She also runs the nonprofit Teach A Talent, an association that connects adults willing to share their passions with kids curious to learn. She lives in Madrid with her two daughters and blogs about their creative adventures at The Adventures Archive.


  1. cinthia said on February 18, 2014 #

    Thank you for this very interesting post ! My simple way to improve my kid’s vocabulary has always been to read a lot of stories and never change words or simplify sentences, and never stop to explain (except if one of my kid was asking me) even if i could feel that not everything was understandable. It let kids learn vocabulary in their own way : some just “feel” the meaning of words they don’t know where others ask for the definition. This way you let your kids deal with the words the way they want to, but surely, they do have pleasure with words, and keep them for life ! (hope my english is not too wonky !)

  2. Nuria said on February 18, 2014 #

    Hi Cinthia, you are right, reading stories is also a wonderful tool. Love the way you said it, children just “feel” the meaning and they are soon able to add the word to their vocabulary. Thanks for your comment (your English is great ;))

  3. Alison said on February 22, 2014 #

    I’m a classroom teacher and we collect new words on wall posters with each focus. They’re generally remembered and the children notice if I use the new words weeks later but I love the idea of a jar…they could come directly from the wall into the jar when our focus evolves. I know that they would love taking charge of a word jar and we could revisit as a way of connecting learning. I hope it’s ok to blog about it next week and link back here to you. Thanks for sharing.

    • Nuria said on March 4, 2014 #

      Thanks to you Alison!

  4. Weekender said on February 23, 2014 #

    [...] Look at the big brains on Brad [...]

  5. Jacqui said on February 27, 2014 #

    Thanks for this article – some really great tips & I think the jar is an excellent idea. I also LOVE the link to ‘The Kid Should See This’ site – such a cool resource!!

  6. Nuria said on March 4, 2014 #

    Thank you Jacqui, so glad you liked it! The Kid should see this is a fantastic web.

  7. Kalai said on April 1, 2014 #

    Wah!!!! Really a great idea!!!!

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