Using the right vocabulary in a story

It was a dark and glacial night…

It’s so obvious, but so often forgotten.

Remember to adjust your vocabulary to your child’s level of understanding.

Kids will mostly allow you a certain amount of leeway as words fly over their heads’, but if they can discern an entire word they don’t understand, they are more than likely going to bring you up on it.

“What’s ‘glacial’ mean Dad?”


Immediately, the calm and quiet bedtime atmosphere of the story is broken and your child is back in learning mode.

If you continue this way, the story may well be a flop, as your child will not be able to maintain a clear understanding of what is actually going on.

Choose your words carefully and be concise.

Gauging the right level for your audience is key and certainly older kids are going to find it easier, though don’t forget that they may also feel too self conscious to ask about words they don’t understand.

Stories are great vehicles to help children learn new words and grammatical structure and the key is to introduce no more than about 4 new words per story.

Introducing new words in stories lets them get used to someone saying them and hearing the different contexts in which they can be used.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m not just talking about reciting stories from memory here, it has to be part of our assessment as we read bedtime stories with our kids as well as when we sow a tale from memory.

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