One of the six essential skills for learning to read is vocabulary. And if you read this blog much, you know how much I encourage (ie, push!) talking with kids as the best means of building vocabulary. It’s simple and it’s important.

Well, here’s another study to back that up.

I love this quote:

“…the program was purposely ‘not a very complicated intervention,’ and it helps teachers engage in the same complex conversations that the Kansas study showed professional parents have with their children, ‘introducing 50 cent words as opposed to 25 cent words,’ as Ms. Finney put it.”

This is not just a matter of adults not knowing “50 cent words” and therefore not being able to share them with children. Somewhere along the way, we lost our confidence in the power of language to convey meaning when it is shared actively between two people, face to face, in a particular context.

We do not have to and should not use only words kids immediately understand. When they began learning language, they didn’t understand any of the words–and look, they figured it out.

That’s the beauty of our brains’ pre-wiring for language. It works. We just have to “feed” that development with lots and lots of conversation, with lots and lots of words.

We can do this, folks. Professional parents are not sitting around and giving vocabulary lessons to their children. That’s not how their kids are developing 1,100 word vocabularies. These parents are simply talking with their children.  As teachers, childcare providers, and librarians, we, too, can talk with children conversationally. (If you think all adults do this with kids, just walk around Walmart one day and look and listen.) And we can model this with parents and encourage them with the news that this is something they can do–and that it makes a tremendous difference over the four to five years before their children start school.

So, talk on!