Vocabulary refers to one’s understanding of words, including their definitions and context. It is broken up into oral (speaking), understanding (listening), and print (reading vocabulary). Needless to say, vocabulary is crucial in strengthening reading comprehension and fluency. In most instances, poor vocabulary can limit and interrupt a child’s learning and reading experience. And while it can grow naturally from daily reading and conversations, it is just as important to explicitly teach and expand vocabulary.

A rich vocabulary is the hallmark of a well-rounded student. We are not dictionaries haters, but some students need explicit vocabulary instruction. We want kids to be self-reliant so they can effectively transfer their vocabulary knowledge to reading, writing, speaking, and listening.

We work with students with decreased vocabularies compared to peers, and we work with students who have word-finding difficulties. We use a variety of effective techniques in our vocabulary tutoring, with in-depth procedures, using listening, speaking, and written contexts to help vocabulary development. Before you know it, you won't even know what your child is saying, in a good way.

Several strategies include word mapping (graphic display of word/concept relationships), word substitution (teach new words related to word found in story etc.), semantic relationships, e.g. how are the words related, discussion of words in a text, incorporating strategies students can use independently, expanding and deepening student’s knowledge of word meanings, acting out meanings, focusing on word structure (root words and derivations), reflective pausing, imagery and gesture cues, and mass practice.

We utilize explicit teaching methods such as pre-reviewing difficult words, repeated exposure to vocabulary in text, and word maps. We also use implicit teaching methods by helping children build their context skills to master more vocabulary.

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There is also a strong correlation between vocabulary and reading comprehension as both skills are necessary for reading success, but depend on each other. Word meanings make up a large part of comprehension, some scholars believe as high as 70 to 80%. In addition, students with large vocabularies do well across all areas of the curriculum and are able to absorb new concepts more easily important skills with the new common core curriculum.