Having a wide vocabulary is vitally important for a child facing the 11 plus. Most schools across London will assess prospective pupils in verbal reasoning and comprehension, and some will also test creative writing skills. To do well in these areas it is important to be good with words so we have compiled some helpful suggestions to give your child the edge.
1.) Encouraging your child to read extensively from a very young age is probably the best way to enlarge their vocabulary. Don’t let them rely solely on more modern literature. It is important they read the Classics (Black Beauty, The Railway Children etc.) It is from these novels that 11 plus comprehensions are generally taken. The language can be difficult so if you do have some time every week to read with your child pick something that is a bit more difficult and then talk about what is happening and explain difficult words.
2.) Should your child struggle with reading talking tapes can be an excellent way to give them access to more sophisticated stories and language. The whole family can enjoy a book together in the car on the way to school or your child can listen to a tape while brushing their teeth or tidying their room.
Amazon audible is an easy way to download a multitude of classic children’s books.
3.) While reading is undoubtedly the key to a wide vocabulary there are some excellent resources that can help as well. SH Nursery Consultancy loves Mrs Wordsmith’s word calendar. Each page has a word on it with both its written meaning and a humorous illustration. We frequently see these well-loved calendars on kitchen islands across London with the whole family doing a word a day or every few days. To reinforce recall it is a good idea to have a whiteboard somewhere convenient where your child can write a couple of sentences that use the relevant word correctly.
4.) Think about the vocabulary that you use. You are a walking, talking dictionary for your child and if you make a habit of using more sophisticated language it will come more naturally for them.
Remember language acquisition is a gradual process that takes time. Don’t leave it until the end of Year 5 before it becomes a priority. Get your child into books now whatever their age.