Learning Support: Building Your Child’s Vocabulary One Story at a Time | Garden International School Malaysia

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Learning Support: Building Your Child’s Vocabulary One Story at a Time | Garden International School Malaysia

rden International School Malaysia blog Talk for Writing-1

rden International School Malaysia blog Talk for Writing-1rden International School Malaysia blog Talk for Writing-2

Children generally learn to read and write at school, but each child approaches this stage with a different level or amount of pre-developed vocabulary.

Before school, parents and immediate caregivers act as the main source for their children’s vocabulary development, and it all starts with conversations.

Children learn languages from conversations spoken to or around them.

The more you talk to your child, the faster they make connections between words and meanings which ultimately increases their collection of vocabulary.

In addition to that, several researches like that of Hart and Risley have shown that talking more often to your child during the first three years can considerably increase their IQ.

Similarly, it is the size of a child’s vocabulary that determines their reading age and there are lots of studies that have found a correlation between reading age and later success.

For example, Timothy Bates and Stuart Ritchie, at Edinburgh University, proved a connection between reading well at earlier ages and future success.

They analysed the relationship between early reading skills at seven and later socio-economic life, following more than 17,000 people in England, Scotland and Wales over 50 years.

They showed that reading well at age seven was a key factor in determining whether people went on to get a high-income job.

“Children with higher reading and maths skills ended up having higher incomes, better housing and more professional roles in adulthood,” the authors concluded.

Parental support with language early on can also help children transition into primary school and lessen any learning challenges they may face.

Wondering where to start? Here are a few ways how:

Allocating time for reading

Talking to your child can be done in the form of storytelling.

Allocating 15-20 minutes a day to read to, and with, your child can both teach them new vocabulary and how to read.

Reading whilst looking at the text with your child helps them see what words and full sentences look like, then form connections on their own between the words being spoken and ones written.

You can make your reading sessions more fun and engaging by choosing books together and making the reading exercise as interactive as possible.

Asking questions

Asking your child questions during your reading sessions is not only great for encouraging them to interact with the book, but it is also very effective in developing their ability to comprehend what they are reading.

You can start by asking your child to clarify what has been read or what they think a word means as well as encourage them to ask questions back about anything they don’t quite understand.

Linking reading to writing

Introducing writing exercises during your reading sessions can be done in quite a few ways.

A good example to doing is by ‘Talk for Writing’, – an approach to learning developed by Pie Corbett and is widely used within UK primary schools.

Talk for Writing is a powerful and fun approach that enables children to physically imitate the language – i.e. acting out the words – they need for a particular topic orally before reading and analysing it and then writing their own version.


Getting creative

Reading and writing exercises do not have to strictly follow the storyline on paper.

Encouraging the use of imagination makes for an enjoyable as well as memorable learning experience.

You can do so by asking them to change an angle or feature of a story they’ve read, how would they change the story to make it better, as well as come up with possible sequels to stories.

“At GIS, we believe in the importance of developing a wide and rich vocabulary through nurturing a love of reading, sharing quality story books and encouraging our children to experiment with their growing vocabulary in all aspects of the curriculum. We actively support “Magpieing” ideas, using ideas from stories we have read and from our peers,” said Katy Bannister, Assistant Head of Lower School.


This topic was discussed in depth during one of GIS’s weekly Parent Workshops. Educating our parents and offering them the tools to better understand the educational environment of their children is an essential part of the GIS Learning Culture.

At GIS, we bring out the best in everyone, both inside and outside of the classroom through our unique learning culture where we pursue our passions and strive for excellence; all in the spirit of respect, integrity and well-being.


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