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Monday, May 8, 2017

FUN WAYS FOR KIDS TO LEARN VOCABULARY

I'm so glad that my husband and I worked on reading skills with my daughter in a fun, relaxed way before she got into kindergarten. The most important thing she learned before the public schools tried to beat it out of her, was to love words, stories and books. I was glad that my family, all teachers going back three generations, knew how to make learning fun.

In our area's kindergarten classes, I spent a lot of time fighting against the system used to teach reading by the public schools. Everyone who loves to read knows that keeping reading and words fun is the most important thing. My daughter's kindergarten teacher, according to her required curriculum no doubt, wanted my daughter to memorize 150 site words, we told her she would memorize those words and learn to read when she was ready. I can't think of any more negative educational style than to have five-year-olds memorize such boring words as: "the, a, an, that, and, of..."when there are so many fun ways to engage children in the love of words and reading. We used BOB BOOKS, but they seem to have added things now that we would never have used. Skip all his Sight Words, Alphabet books that cater to the public schools and go directly to the stories. They were simple and hilarious. 

Words that can be boring if they are only memorized ( flashcards or rote memory) can be done more positively through play. This helps little learners understand and enjoy language. With words as small as, "in and out," let the learners feel and experience them through fun physical activities--jump in and out of a box, a baby pool or a sandbox etc.and increase the fun by adding a song.: Singing "Go In and Out the Window" doesn't have to mean that the learner has to go in and out of a window, unless you want to build one by cutting a hole in a cardboard castle for example. They will love it if you jump in and out with them, not exactly at the same time though. Don't explain or lecture, just do it. 

There are words and subjects that thrill kids. This makes these subjects and words easy and interesting, almost natural to learn. Children who love to read throughout their life, learn first to love language. Rather than memorizing, children easily become enthralled with words that excite them and subjects that thrill them. Words like Tyrannosaurus Rex, peacock, dinosaur, paleontologist, King Tutankhamen, centipede, pyramid, meerkat, penguin, which are fun to roll around in their mouths, and also come from subjects that make them curious to learn..

Taking your child to museums,like the natural history museums with their giant dinosaur skeletons and children's museums which allow wonder explorations. All museum visits help increase vocabulary and thus, without any pedantry, foster important skills needed to read. Interacting with a teacher, parent, sibling or other relative about the things they see in museums and in the world around them, helps them far more than memorizing the word "which". For very young children I recommend arboretums, botanical gardens, green houses, aquariums, zoos, walks in the woods and children's museums. Try to determine whether or not giant automated dinosaurs at the zoo will scare them and skip those parts.


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