What Are You Saying To Your Kids?

It is scientifically proven that what kids hear constantly helps them build their vocabulary. In fact the more exposed they are to words, the more they are able to use words and become competent in using the language. However, many people are either ignorant of this fact or they don’t know how to exploit that opportunity of grooming kids early for good language skills. Kids between the ages of 0-6 years have a very high capacity to learn languages easier and even faster than adults. It is therefore important for parents and teachers to exploit this stage to ensure that kids get as much as they can in language learning.

Onome Onwah

One of the very first ways to help kids build competence in language especially at a very young age is to read to them. The more they hear new words, it sinks in and they begin to use them. One cannot fully explain this but a theory in Linguistics calls it the LANGUAGE ACQUISITION DEVICE. Children easily acquire language by virtue of this device that is inherent in them. Therefore, when kids are not exposed to words they will have poor skills in the use of the language especially because their vocabulary level is low.

Parents and teachers, please speak well to the kids. When kids keep hearing wrong grammar and pronunciation they begin to speak that way believing it is right. This is crucial with pronunciations because the way you articulate your sounds is what they will imitate it. So if you pronounce ‘air’ as ‘hair’ they will say it the same way. Please take time to correct your pronunciations if you have to.

Also, fill your house with literacy board games, flashcards, books and worksheets. There are many of these available in good bookstores that can help develop the kids language skills. You must correct bad use of language and let them know what is right. If you notice a conflict between what you teach your kids and what they learn in school especially as regards pronunciation, please see the teacher for clarity. If the teacher is wrong, do well to point it out politely. Take interest in the way your kids use language.

Furthermore, when reading to your child or when they read to you, ask them frequently if they understand the words they are reading especially if it is a new word. Ensure they get the meaning by using sentence clues, root words or word mapping. This will help them incredibly even in their writing.

You can also have a word bank at home or in the class. A word bank is a list of words written in a book or if you have a board at home, it can be words that can be pasted weekly. You can put up a word for the week that they learn and must use in sentences. It can be two words per week but make sure you are constantly introducing them to new words and reward them when they use it. Rewards can be a high five or a bar of chocolate.

Speak constantly with your kids at home. Don’t be afraid to use words with them. If they don’t know what the word is, tell them the meaning. When they watch TV guide them through the words that they hear. As much as possible, make TV time an educative time too. If you have questions leave them in the comment section or send an email to academy@onomeonwah.org.

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