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Teach Your Child Strategies for Vocabulary Words

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Updated July 11, 2011

Story Time

Vocabulary Word Strategies

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Vocabulary skills can make or break any student's feelings about reading. Help students with learning disabilities successfully deal with new vocabulary in ways that empower their future learning with these strategies. These strategies can be adapted for appropriately for different grade levels and are easily done at home or school. They can be used by regular and special education students.
Difficulty: Average
Time Required: This Reading Skill Can be Taught in Approximately 20 Minutes

Here's How:

  1. Decoding and Listening to Vocabulary Words:

    Provide the student with a list of new vocabulary words that will appear in a passage. Have the student sound the word out loud. Read it aloud to her if she does not read phonetically. Ask the student if the word sounds like other words she knows. Do parts of the word suggest what it means?

  2. Gleaning for Clues to Understanding:

    Have the student read the sentences surrounding the new word. Do the sentences give the student an idea of the meaning of the word? Ask her to make suggestions about the meaning. For younger students, provide visual depictions of the words whenever possible though illustrated books.

  3. Create a Personal Dictionary:

    Provide students a list of new vocabulary words from the passage. Older students can scan the passage and make their own lists of unfamiliar vocabulary. Have students create their own personal dictionary by looking up words and writing the definitions in a notebook. For younger students, consider having them also draw an illustration of the words as appropriate. Have students occasionally review their personal word lists to reinforce their learning.

  4. Skip It:

    Sometimes it is best to allow students to read passages and simply skip words they cannot decode or read. Consider having students make a slight mark by words they do not know and continue reading. This allows them to finish the passage without disrupting the flow of text. Have them address the words they missed after they are finished reading the passages. They can address them using the strategies above at that time.

Tips:

  1. It is a good practice to teach students these skills as they are learning to read. This helps them to understand strategies as a good way to deal with reading before problems occur. They will recognize this as good practice and not a treatment for a learning problem.
  2. For students who have already learned to read, it may be helpful to teach them the strategies apart from a reading activity. Later, as they read, casually remind them of the strategies if they appear to struggle and do not seem to use them.
  3. Pair this strategy with other research-based strategies from your Learning Disabilities Guide for more success in school.

What You Need

  • Age-appropriate Dictionary
  • Notebook
  • Writing Supplies
  • Coloring Pencils (for younger students)

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