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Vocabulary knowledge has a wide-ranging influence on a child’s reading comprehension ability. Therefore it is important to ensure that students are being taught vocabulary in an effective and long-lasting manner. Below is a program designed by Dr Lorraine Hammond from Edith Cowan University on effective vocabulary instruction however, there are other ways of teaching vocabulary as well.
Dr Hamond separates words in Tiers. Examples of Tier 1, 2 and 3 words are below:
1. Decide which Tier 2 words are relevant and teachable to your students.
When choosing tier 2 words to teach your students, it is important to consider the importance and utility of the word, as well as its instructional potential: you mus be able to explain the words using concrete, simple terms. It is also important to consider whether the students already have the vocabulary to explain this word.
2. Write some child-friendly definitions that are meaningful to your students
Use language that your students are familar with and try to capture the definition of the word in its broadest application. For example:
Furious: Someone who is furious is extremely angry
Premonition: If you have a premonition, you have a feeling that something is going to happen, often something unpleasant.
3. Provide an additional context for a word
For example, Furious doesn’t always mean extremely angry. Furious can also be used to describe something that is done with great energy, effort, speed or violence.
4. Provide opportunities for students to actively process word meanings
The key to effective activities is that they require students to attend to the meaning of a word in order to apply it to a given situation. Some examples of opportunities for students to engage in words include:
Have you ever? questions
Questions, reasons, examples, making choices
5. Provide for a high frequency of encounters over time
Frequent encounters with words make new knowledge ‘stick’. It is recommended that teachers provide their students with 10 new words per week, with daily activities, as well as ongoing revision of words that have already been introduced.
6. Review student learning
The most effective way to review student learning is by asking, specifically about the new vocabulary. Learners need six (meaningful) exposures to a new word during the initial lesson and at least 30 additional exposure during the ensuing month.
Information for this page was taken from Dr. Lorraine Hammond’s lecture, “Teaching Vocabulary: One component of reading comprehension” presented at the SPELD Conference 2009 on 7th October, 2009 . The Quirky Kid team attended to this event.
Nurturing and developing writing skills in young people allows for development of great tools that aid children throughout their schooling years and into adulthood. Writing and storytelling let children expand their imagination, extend their communication abilities and it also offers them a space to explore their feelings.
As children grow, their understanding of themselves changes. Writing about thoughts, feelings and ideas is one way in which children are able to distinguish themselves as separate from their family unit, and unique among their peers. Sharing their stories, or their journal entries in the lower primary years allows for a sense of self to develop and lets the child understand that their ideas may differ from those of the people around them, and that what they are sharing, writing, and thinking about are valuable and interesting entities.
As children progress through Middle school and High school, writing and being able to communicate through the written word becomes vital as many of the subjects offered at this level are centered upon the need to express thoughts and ideas, as well as recount learned facts.
Kimberley O’Brien is the principal psychologist at the Quirky Kid Clinic and has worked as a child psychologist for 16 years. Kim notes that from a mental well-being point of view “writing provides a healthy outlet for self-expression, reducing the likelihood of behavioural, social and emotional issues.” Positive outcomes of getting your child to write may be: better communication skills, a developed imagination and pride in creating something creative.
If your child is struggling to write or express themselves with the written word, there are many positive ways to encourage them.
Consider finding a diary for your child to decorate and make their own, and ask them to jot down ideas, feelings or even little stories or funny lines. Have a sharing time allocated each week in which they can read you, or let you read, what they have written. Offer praise and encouragement.
Suggest your child participates in writing competitions or to write a letter to their favorite magazine. Even if the child doesn’t win or have their work published, the process of completing a formatted writing piece, with encouragement and praise, will build confidence to keep writing.
Ask your child to write a letter or make a card for someone, and then send it. It could even be a letter to someone in the household, like the family pet. This way the child is learning about writing as a communication and can be a fun exercise that they will enjoy, especially if they receive a card or letter back!
It is more important to get a young child writing than to worry about sentence structure, grammar or spelling. Those things will improve with the frequency of writing, and if you daunt them with too many rules and regulations, they may not enjoy the experience and realize that writing is actually really fun!