NOVI, Mich., April 27, 2017 – What spicy words have you used today? At Childtime, preschoolers are learning fun and powerful new ways to express themselves with surprisingly sophisticated vocabulary. Words like enormous, creeping and fierce are celebrated as children first discover, then try out newly acquired expressions.
“Children need to have a rich and robust oral language vocabulary in order to prepare them for success in school,” said Dr. Susan Canizares, Chief Academic Officer at Childtime. “We celebrate spicy words in our classrooms every day, introducing children to precise and intriguing ways to describe concepts they already know. This is the basis of oral language learning, helping lay the foundation for language children will encounter as readers beginning in second grade and into adulthood.”
For children at Childtime, discovering spicy words is a favorite part of every school day. The teacher reads a book aloud, the class finds the spicy words, the teacher posts them on the word wall in the classroom, and children enjoy using them in daily learning activities throughout the week.
Early Start in Vocabulary a Key to Close the Skills Gap
Encouraging vocabulary development in preschool is an important step to supporting reading proficiency in elementary school – and ultimately ensuring a skilled future workforce. According to a recent study from the Business Roundtable, an association representing leaders from top U.S. firms, 93 percent of CEOs rated reading and writing as very or somewhat important for current job openings in their companies. Forty two percent of CEOs reported difficulty in finding qualified applicants with strong enough skills in these areas. The shortage is pronounced in STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) fields, where workers need advanced literacy skills to effectively communicate about technical topics.
“Improving early reading proficiency offers a powerful way to address the growing skills gap impacting the U.S. economy,” said Canizares. “Before they can grow into strong readers, children first need to build a rich oral vocabulary during their formative years.”
Exploring Spicy Words at Home
Storytime offers a natural opportunity for families to discover and celebrate spicy words at home.
“Reading together is one of the most important ways that a parent can set their child up for success and have fun at the same time,” emphasizes Canizares. “By reading to your child for 15 minutes every night, you’re introducing the world of literature, encouraging language development, supporting problem solving as your child explores what characters in a book are doing and why they’re doing it, and bonding with your child socially and emotionally. When you read a picture book aloud with expression and fun in your voice, children will automatically hear the spicy words and latch onto them.”
More tips for introducing spicy words at home:
- Connect spicy words to words your child already knows.
- Explore new spicy words in thematically related groups – such as feelings, activities, and weather.
- Keep conversation flowing – Maintain a running play-by-play during activities to explain what you’re doing, using familiar and new words.
- Encourage questions.
- Applaud your child’s attempts to experiment with new verbiage. Be gentle when correcting pronunciation or misuse.
- Repeat and repeat – Encountering the same new or spicy word several times, in appropriate contexts, will help deepen understanding. Use a new word multiple times in scenarios that are meaningful for your child.
For more on spicy words, check out this YouTube video featuring Dr. Susan Canizares.