My 3-year old son and I were in a power struggle. I needed him to put on his pajamas, and he absolutely didn’t want them on. He was trying to pull the pajamas from my hand.
I don’t like getting into power struggles with anyone period, but I especially don’t like to get into them with little kids who can’t reason logically.
I needed out. It was late. We were both tired.
So I said, “Ughhh…It looks like we are in a kerfuffle.”
Predictably, my son stopped and started laughing.
“Kerfuffle. What’s a kerfuffle? That’s a funny word,“ he said in a fit of giggles.
I went on to explain what it meant and before long our argument was forgotten, and he put on his pajamas.
A few weeks later, he didn’t want to do something again that I needed him to do.
He looked at me and said, “Are we having a kerfuffle?” and we were back to laughing again.
Even more impressive is that preschool and young kids alike can and will learn vocabulary if we expose them to it in meaningful ways.
In fact, there is no research to suggest that vocabulary needs to be taught in a certain chronological order as evidenced by my son learning the word kerfuffle.
There are four steps, I recently learned from a training on Vocabulary Instruction for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Students, you need to take to teach your kids new vocabulary.
Little did I know that I was doing a lot of these steps inadvertently.
Why Parents Need to Be Involved in Vocabulary?
As a teacher, I desperately need my parents to be involved in teaching vocabulary. It’s a two-way street.
If the school isn’t providing you a list of the vocabulary they are teaching your kids, ask for it.
There are so many vocabulary enriching opportunities that are taking place at home that if parents aren’t taking advantage of these opportunities, kids are missing out on a lot of exposure to learning new words.
In fact, researchers estimate that it could take as many as 17 exposures for a kid to learn a new word.
What’s more is that kids need a multisensory approach to learning new words.
It’s not enough for them to just be exposed to a word at school.
For example, let’s say that they are learning the words rinse, chop, pour, stir, and bake.
School will most likely introduce these words, show pictures, and if your kids are fortunate to have a teacher or school with resources, they might be able to go into a kitchen and act these out.
But at home, they can actually feel the coolness of the water as you rinse vegetables. They can hear the sound of you chopping an onion and the sound of liquid being poured into a mixing bowl. They can see how the ingredients blend together when you stir everything together. And finally they can smell and taste the food being baked.
And that’s how kids learn words.
Why I Don’t Recommend Flashcards to Teach Vocabulary?
Lauren Barrett is a multi-passionate mom working to help all parents become their best selves and build positive relationships with their kids through mindful parenting. She has a degree in deaf education and a Master’s in Reading Education. She is a high school teacher of the Deaf and hard-of-hearing by day, a cross country coach by the afternoon, a writer/author by her son's nap times, and a full time mom to an amazing preschooler. Lauren is a 3x author of the Add One-A-Day 30 Day Challenge, children's book, Henry's Hiccups, and parenting guide Now What? Mindful Checklists for Life's Hard Parenting Moments, a blogger at Lauren Barrett Writes, and has been published on sites like A Fine Parent, Pregnant Chicken, Pop Sugar, Her View From Home, and Scary Mommy. She loves her faith, running, visiting MLB stadiums with her husband, chocolate, scrapbooking, pretending she would actually do well on the Amazing Race, re-watching The Office, listening to Bobby Bones, and helping out all moms. She lives in North Carolina with her husband, James, and son, Henry. Follow her on Instagram at @laurenbarrettwrites, and get her free guide on what to do during the middle of a tantrum.
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