More Than Spelling Tests: 3 Ways Parents Can Promote Vocabulary
Do you remember spelling tests in school at the end of the week? I didn’t mind them, but there were some classmates who would be sweating in their seats, looking as if the teacher started speaking in tongues or another language as she called out words. Back then knowing how to put letters in order was the easy part. Nowadays standardized tests stress students not only know how to spell certain words but also what they mean. Go figure? Back then, God forgive us, we used to pick on others who scored big fat red D’s and F’s on their spelling tests. Never really in class. We saved it for use as a weapon on the playground should someone dare have the nerve to talk about somebody’s mama. If only we knew then that there was much more at stake for not knowing our words than being teased on the playground. If my child is unfamiliar with many words in a story or reading passage then they will feel lost, unable to make sense of what they are reading. Even though they could fully understand were it not for a few unknown words sitting in the middle of the story or reading passage. NAEP recently reported that many children of color’s test scores in vocabulary are some 20-30 points behind their white classmates. National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) focused on students’ understanding of words in varied contexts. They found:
Now I am quite sure that one group is not smarter than the other. However, so we can hopefully help our three find that extra 20-30 points we are going to make extra sure we keep up with these….
3 Ways to promote vocabulary:
- At home choose a book above grade level. Read the story aloud, to tweens and teens even. When you come across a word that you think the kiddos may not know ask them. Or sometimes they may stop and ask you. Eventually you will get to a point where they will.
- Increase conversation. – After work, during dinner or right before bedtime….the more you talk the more kiddos pick up new words.
- Read at least 20 minutes a day to help increase vocabulary. Make sure you choose books that are on your child’s, tween or teens DRA or Lexile level.