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A Parent’s Role in the World of Words and Vocabulary

Vocabulary – or, the words we need to know in order to communicate – is important for daily comprehension of what others are saying, what we are reading, and even what we want others to understand. But while speaking vocabularies are important, our goal when it comes to teaching students is to improve their reading, writing, listening, and speaking vocabularies.

Research from the National Reading Panel indicates that students learn most vocabulary indirectly, via typical daily interactions with others, media, texts, and other means. There is still a place for learning vocabulary directly, through instruction of words, their meanings, and proper use.

How To Help Your Child’s Vocabulary

First, it helps to understand the different types of vocabulary. The words we use proficiently when we speak with other people are known as our speaking vocabulary. Words we understand when others are speaking comprise our listening vocabulary.

Then there are words we can decode and comprehend- our reading vocabulary- and words we can write, spell, and comprehend- our writing vocabulary. Typically, speaking vocabularies are larger than listening, reading, or writing vocabularies, as we passively pick up a great deal of our vocabulary from engaging and talking with others.

Reading aloud to children improves their vocabulary. In fact, regardless of age, reading material beyond a child’s reading ability but in line with their comprehension ability will help improve vocabulary.

Interactive activities such as vocabulary in Vinkle World! within K12’s Noodleverse Language Arts program for grades K-3 can supplement your efforts. The program provides the same direct and explicit instruction in a variety of words and kinds of words provided in K12’s regular curriculum.

A supplemental program can help provide the repetition necessary for effective vocabulary instruction. Specifically, research from Margaret McKeown and Isabel Beck shows that effective vocabulary instruction improves comprehension, and to achieve effective vocabulary instruction students must have repeated exposure to the words they are studying.

Noodleverse provides ample opportunities for students to review and practice vocabulary words from lessons in a fun and engaging way.



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Kristen Kinney-Haines

Kristen Kinney-Haines is director of primary literacy for K12. She has worked with the company's Phonics and Language Arts programs since 2001. Dr. Kinney-Haines is responsible for the creation and development of MARK12 Reading, K12's first remedial product, as well the second generation of K-2 Language Arts and Phonics. Previously, she taught kindergarten and first grade in Upstate New York and Special Education in Northern Virginia. Dr. Kinney-Haines holds a bachelor of science degree in Education from the State University of New York at Geneseo, a master's degree in Reading from Nazareth College, and a doctorate of education in Curriculum and Instruction from The George Washington University.

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