HOME & PARENTS
For the Love of Words
It was a beautiful late August day, and my family and I were headed down the shore for what is likely to be our last day trip of summer. As we drove the familiar roads, we approached a small roadside fruit stand that displayed a standing sign boasting homemade PIES. I could hear my girls begin their plotting in the back.
Later, while sitting on the beach, I found myself amused by their collective pie chant. I turned to my son and asked, “How do you know I love the word pie?”
“Because you have said it a hundred times! And you usually follow it with a list of all the other words you love.”
“Ominous, zephyr, pedantic, tomfoolery, juxtaposition, smarmy, kismet …”
“Okay, okay. I get it. Do you have any words you love?” I ask, hopefully.
“Of course. Circuitous and plethora.”
I immediately turn to the girls. “What words do you love?”
They reply with their favorites: creamy and the ballet move, pas de bourree.
Try it at home
Here I have compiled some of the easiest things you can do to build passion for words in children.
Be a brave role model.
Gush over words.
Often, we gush over good behavior and engagement (keep doing this!), but don’t forget—everyday—to gush over a word you read or hear.
Talk to your children about purposely building their vocabulary.
I have heard people use words and I think, “I want to use that word,” but I am not sure how best to start. So I experiment! I find out the meaning, figure out some appropriate situations for its use, and then off I go.
Try it with a low-risk group first (family and close friends.) The more you say it, the more it becomes your word.
Have words that you own.
If your child does experiment with a word, you could give them a “oh- you owned that word” high five. That evening, over blueberry pie, my daughter asked, “Mom, how do you feel about the word éclair?”