The Importance of Vocabulary Development

Vocabulary development begins in infancy and is the foundation on which children’s language and literacy skills are built. Research shows that the size of a child’s vocabulary is a strong indicator of future school success.

At Stepping Stone School, your children develop vocabulary through developmentally appropriate planning, interactions and instruction from their teachers.

Infants & Young Toddlers:  The very youngest are spoken to in soft, high tones that draw attention. Their teachers ensure that the children see their mouths while talking and that their actions correspond to the words when possible. They sing nursery rhymes and made-up songs, play with rhyming words, read books and say the children’s names.

Older infants begin following the teacher’s lead by pointing out animals and objects in books or making animal sounds in songs. Sign language gives the children a way to express their needs and further enhances language acquisition.

Toddlers & Twos:  These children are beginning to understand the meanings of sounds. Their teachers play word games following the children’s lead. As the children are learning to express themselves, their teachers assist by supplying words as needed. The children are becoming accustomed to seeing their names, gradually learning to distinguish their own name from others. They may start recognizing the first letters of names that are important to them.

Three- to Five-Year Olds:  Most children are now verbally communicating their needs and interests. During the two years before kindergarten, our teachers model communication skills and language usage in all daily interactions. Children dictate stories, and the teacher writes the words on large chart tablets. They continue to learn weekly vocabulary words and create classroom charts and graphs.

Books from our rich Children’s Classic Literature collection are read and reread as favorites are discovered. Throughout the room children cut out words in magazines to create messages and art, discuss the rules of a board game, write a sign for the block structure just created, and study the daily schedule to understand what is next in their day.

School Age:  Children are given a daily platform to share news, discuss the week’s theme and vocabulary words, and even develop their own class rules. Calm, quiet time follows, providing a time for homework, personal reading and opportunities to work in small groups.

The teacher moves among the children modeling language and vocabulary skills. These skills are enhanced throughout the afternoon as the children write plays, create graphs or describe favorite soccer plays!


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