Parents of four and five year olds often spend that last year before kindergarten trying to make sure the child knows all he should before school starts. There are many things a child needs to know and many things that will make life easier for a child. The most important bit of knowledge is perhaps vocabulary. Vocabulary is build slowly over time, and greatly grows when the child is read to.
Here are some interesting facts listed in The Read Aloud Handbook about vocabulary (page 13):
- By age two, the child can understand ~300 words
- This number triples by age three
- A four year old understands 2/3-3/4 of the words he will use in future daily life
- Once a child can talk, he will add on average 10 new words a day
How do you help your child reach his utmost potential in learning vocabulary words? By reading to him. Read a variety of books and read the words as written--avoid the temptation to change a more difficult word into a word you know your child will understand (like saying "laughed" instead of "chuckled").
Trelease states, "...the child's vocabulary...he or she already knows [upon entering school] determine how much of what the teacher says will be understood" (page 13). He points out that until fourth grade, most instructions given are oral. "That's why school-entry vocabulary tests predict so accurately [children's success]" (page 13).
So read to your child each day! If you want to prep for school, this is the best thing you can do.
And notice that we are only on page 13 in this book I so love? If you haven't read it, I really hope you do. It will take me years to get through it :)
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