3 ways to increase your child’s vocabulary

by | Dec 4, 2017 | Homeschooling, Teaching Homeschool Writing

3 ways to increase your child's vocabulary

Does your child’s writing seem uninspired, boring, or repetitive? It could boil down to vocabulary! Give them a boost by helping them improve word choices. Here are some painless ways to increase your child’s vocabulary.

1. Be a Writing Role Model 

You’ve heard that if you want your kids to become readers, they need to see you reading. Likewise, to raise writers, make sure they see you writing. When you give your children a writing assignment, why not stop to write alongside them?

  • Draw attention to your writing. Point out times that you use writing to communicate with others.
  • Talk about writing opportunities. Explain the purpose for each kind of writing and the target audience, handwriting vs. computer, etc.
  • Let your child see you prepare for a Bible study, keep a gratitude journal, or take notes during church.
  • Have your child help you write thank-you notes and letters, even such routine ones as ordering items from an advertisement or writing a letter of praise or complaint to a company. This helps the child to see firsthand that writing is important to adults and truly useful.
  • Take time to write in your journals together. If you need inspiration, here are 101 journal-writing ideas to get you started.
  • Become your child’s pen pal!

2. Assign Copywork

Copywork has so many benefits, including providing students with excellent writing models. You can use various copywork passages as opportunities to look up unfamiliar words, which is a great way to naturally expand your children’s vocabulary.

You can purchase a resource specifically intended for the purpose of copying. Or simply encourage copying Bible verses, hymns, favorite poems, passages of literature, or famous quotations.

3. Make Lists

Making lists is an effective writing tool for all ages—and one of the ways to increase your child’s vocabulary. Most kids like to create lists anyway, but writing out lists—from the mundane to the meaningful—also helps them become more organized. Taken a step further, when list-making is used as a brainstorming tool, it can even help them plan the elements of a story or essay. And it’s a great way to build context-specific vocabulary.

  • Show them how you keep a calendar, make grocery lists, write daily to-do lists, add to an ongoing list of projects, etc. Then your kids can make their own lists of schoolwork, dates for soccer practice and games, family birthdays, etc.
  • Ask them to inventory furniture in a room or items in a junk drawer, jewelry box, or medicine cabinet. Talk about different ways to name common objects.
  • Invite them to make lists of their various personal possessions such as baseball cards, stuffed animals, shoes, or CDs. Collections, such as seashells or Matchbox cars, often have specific or specialized names. Learning these helps contribute to vocabulary growth.
  • Help them create word lists. These can be specific (word bank about nature), or general (list of adjectives that add sparkle to dull writing). For example, kids can make a list of texture words such as rough or slippery, or character qualities such as gentle, brave, or faithful. Then, let them use a thesaurus [aff] to look up synonyms for that word to expand the list … and grow their writing vocabulary!

Looking for more ways to increase your child’s vocabulary? Try these:


  1. Kim

    Excellent, Penny! I know you’ll have fun with your “definitions journal.” Great way to expand the homemade dictionary idea. 😮

  2. Penny

    Kim, I used a 40% off coupon at the big bookstore today to get “The Synonym Finder” and began using it with my daughter this evening. Your Expo session gave me the idea of a “definitions journal” since my daughter is asking so many questions about what words mean. (She is on the autism spectrum and she’s catching up in some areas.)

  3. Penny

    I FOUND IT IN ANOTHER POST – “The Synonym Finder”!!! Woo hoo!

  4. Penny

    What was the name of the thesaurus-like resource you use? I can’t find where I wrote the name of that book! Ack!



  5. Kim

    Aw, Amy, that’s the kindest thing you could say. I love knowing that the blog is helping people with encouragement and ideas for teaching writing. Thanks for your sunny comments. They always brighten my day!

  6. amy in peru

    I wanted to attend just to hear your workshops… but I figure over time, I’m gleaning all the helpful information I’ll need as I go along from your blog! Thank you for this AMAZING resource!!

    LOVE it.

    amy in peru

  7. Penny

    I really enjoyed the presentation today, Kim! You gave me so many wonderful ideas for working w/ my child who has special learning challenges. I appreciate you!


    • Kim

      Thank you, Penny. That means a lot to me.


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