PK4 Academic Vocabulary


An article by Nurys Gisbert, Texas Certified EC-4, Pre-Kindergarten Teacher


How can we help preschoolers improve their academic vocabulary in order to advance their listening and reading comprehension skills?

Limitation in vocabulary knowledge represents a key obstacle to long-term academic success for many students. The urgent points for us to consider is improving the quality of vocabulary instruction across grade levels. Lack of vocabulary could be a major reason why students do not comprehend grade level materials.

"Researchers believe that children can learn up to ten new words a day if exposed to unfamiliar words consistently and frequently. "


An excellent way to improve vocabulary is to have conversations with our students allowing them to be active participants, giving them opportunities to see (graphic organizers, word maps, etc.) and hear (teacher’s voice, recordings, audio books, and more) specific words in multiple contexts (books illustrations). As parents, we can incorporate new vocabulary if we simply talk to our kids.

There are other several excellent practices that can be implemented in order to assist vocabulary development. Based on my 20 years of experience as an educator, I discovered that teaching new words in context, using print and labels, help students realize that words have meaning. The use of labels at home and in the classroom help students identify and incorporate new words into their vocabulary. Researchers believe that children can learn up to ten new words a day if exposed to unfamiliar words consistently and frequently.


It is fundamental for early childhood education to have dramatic play for social interaction and to increase vocabulary. The act of play is influential in learning language and communication skills. When children are engaged in play, they use language to interact with their peers; as they interact they acquire new vocabulary.

Furthermore, read-aloud sessions are, in my opinion, the most important vehicle for building oral language and early literacy skills. A high-quality read-aloud is characterized by adult mediation. Effective teachers weave in questions and comments as they read, creating a conversation between the children, the text, and the teacher. In our classroom, we use theater as an effective tool to retell a familiar story encouraging students the use of newly learned words.


Reading every night at home is essential to improve vocabulary knowledge and create a passion for learning. When students are motivated, they grow academically. When a child’s vocabulary is boosted early in life, then difficulties can be alleviated or completely avoided in the future.

Ms. Gisbert, PK4