Look It Up: Teaching Vocabulary Through Reading & Research

Look It UpTeaching my children to read at a young age was to the greatest advantage of all involved. It made my job as a teacher that much easier and helped my children to develop an immense vocabulary. If there was one frustration associated with starting out so early, it was a limited vocabulary on the part of the reader. Children can become discouraged if they are reading words they do not understand.

Our family’s solution to this problem was to ensure that plenty of dictionary, thesaurus, and idiom books were on hand. If we didn’t know a word, we looked it up! Our children were taught, first by example and then by practice, to look up all words they were unfamiliar with. If there was a phrase they weren’t sure about, we brought out the idiom books and learned from whence it derived and its meaning.

By now this practice has become second nature. They are frequently seen looking up various topics, attempting to gain a better understanding.

While I would like to own a large collection of encyclopedias for them to use as well, that is neither practical in regards to space or finances. This is where the wonderful world of Google comes in. Under parental supervision, our children are occasionally found to be looking up detailed information regarding such topics as world history, persons of interest, or the feeding habits of rolly pollies. Yes, rolly pollies.

Given the amount of time our children spend both reading and increasing their vocabulary, it ought to come as no surprise that our children use some of the most amusing expressions. I clearly remember my littlest girl at about the age of five. She had just finished an activity and was asked how she liked it. “I found it particularly astounding,” she replied. Okay.

At times they still catch us off guard, using terminology we didn’t think they had developed yet, causing us to chuckle. It is a blessing to see them take such an interest in the usage of words and practice it whole heartedly.

I have no regrets in implementing this practice within our homeschooling routine. Our children are growing by leaps and bounds, stretching their minds and expanding their horizons. Starting early is by no means mandatory, but if the kids are ready and willing, why not give it a try? See where the Lord leads and enjoy the adventure.

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” ~Ephesians 4:29

Your Turn!: Do your children surprise you with their mastery of vocabulary?

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Spelling Trouble

Spelling TroubleThere comes a time when you just have to face facts. What you’re doing just isn’t working, and it’s time to move on. For two of my children, spelling is getting the best of them. I think we need a new game plan.

We’ve tried various lists. We’ve tried games. We’ve tried many methods of learning spelling words. All to no avail. My two youngest children are still struggling with their weekly lists. (sigh)

I’ve come to that point in time when I need to ask myself a question. (One which goes against my innermost person, who loves tests.) What is more important? I could force my children to continue testing each week, growing more discouraged with every exam. Or, I could remove the exams and focus on exposure. 

Perhaps if we removed the stress of tests and instead spent more time naturally introducing new vocabulary we would make better progress. So, we’ll read more and vary our reading to include increasingly challenging words. We might also focus on writing, as I’ve noticed they give greater attention to their spelling when they understand the words have purpose. 

Does this mean we will abandon our lists altogether? Not likely. We will still review our spelling words, encouraging our children to develop new vocabulary. However, for these two, we’re going to remove exams for the time being.  

The voice in my head wants to tell me I am failing my children by not continually quizzing them on these arbitrary words. But, wisdom is telling me differently. My children will learn these words. At the right time, and when they are ready. 

🔔Time to Chime In: At what age did your children begin formal lessons in spelling, and was testing a problem for them? 

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