For children, learning to read means continually building an ever-growing vocabulary of words. Child care providers are a key part in this process of vocabulary development.
Vocabulary is the number of words known or used by a person. Children use simple words that they understand. Generally, children understand more words than they use. The average preschooler knows about 5,000 words. By the end of high school the average young adult will know about 60,000 words. A child's vocabulary will gradually grow over time and improve with practice.
Child care providers can help expand children's vocabulary by talking with them. Patience is important, because children often stumble a bit as they learn. Gently help children with the meaning and pronunciation of words that they do not know.
Here are some ways to help young children learn new words:
To learn more about child care providers' roles in supporting early literacy, take a look at the following eXtension Alliance for Better Child Care articles: