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A good vocabulary is essential for all our children as it helps to develop communication and reading skills, as well as increasing understanding in all areas of the curriculum. 


At Churchill, we emphasise the explicit teaching of new vocabulary, and ensure this is part of our everyday practice. To this end, each class has a vocabulary wall in their classroom where unfamiliar, ambitious words found in their reading books and class texts are placed in a centre rectangle. As these words become more familiar and are understood and used by the children, the words are moved outwards across the board (see the photos).  


Children learn the words on their vocabulary walls through a variety of approaches, including word games, sentence building and dictionary work. Use of these words is modelled in conversation and writing by the teachers. Children are actively encouraged to use them in their own verbal responses and writing. 


Parents can also help their children to develop a wider vocabulary in a number of different ways: 

  • Initiate regular conversations with your children. 
  • Use ‘big’ words in normal conversations with them, including words your child may not, at first, be familiar with or understand and be prepared to pause and explain them. 
  • Play word games like Scrabble, Boggle and Hangman or download word apps like 7 Little Words, What’s the Word or Apple Stack onto your phone or tablet for them to play. 
  • Label household objects, or those seen out and about, if your children are very young. 
  • Ensure they read daily. 
  • Take time several times a week to read to them. Choose a book which is a little above the level they would be able to access with their own reading skills. Your class teacher or local librarian will be able to suggest suitable texts. 
  • Correct mistakes with care. Applaud your child’s attempts to use a new word, point out what they got right and review the proper way to use or say the word. Make it a positive experience. 
  • Be patient. You may need to repeat words and meanings multiple times before they fully understand and can use them correctly. This is totally normal. 


Ronald Max, a professor of Educational psychology says, “Exposure to books, exposure to language, explanations for things, all give children opportunities for language growth and success at reading.”