11 tips to improve KS2 English vocabulary

Is your child in Primary School studying KS2 i.e. Year 3 - 6 and needs improve their English vocabulary? Do you want help to support them at home as a parent?


This blog article is for you! We'll cover what vocabulary is, why it's important and what resources you can utilise to take them from the bottom of the class, to the top student.


TIP 1: READ LOTS OF FICTION AND NON-FICTION BOOKS

Encourage your child to read books which expand their vocabulary and will bring context to new or existing words. This will foster their curiosity and lead to use the dictionary to search any new words which they find.


Fiction books are story books i.e. made up tales. The 10 main fiction genres are: adventure, fantasy, science fiction, historical, literary/ classics, humour, horror, romance, thrillers and westerns.


Non fiction books cover factual information. The 9 main non-fiction genres are: history, biography/ autobiography, travel, academic text, philosophy, journalism, self-help, manuals, humour.


Make sure the books are reading level appropriate for your child. Either use your school's reading list or a publisher's level system to guide you. I recommend paper books because online books can lead to distractions if your child clicks on another app or website.


Turn books into rewards as birthday or Christmas gifts, rewards for good school reports or exam scores.


Book or authors I recommend:

  • Harry Potter series by JK Rowling

  • BFG, Charlie & The Chocolate Factory, James & The Giant Peach etc. by Roald Dahl

  • The Butterfly Lion, Kensuke's Kingdom, War Horse etc. by Michael Morpurgo

  • Diary of a Killer Kate, Madame Doubtfire, Flour Babies etc. by Anne Fine

  • Gangsta Granny, The Boy in the Dress, Mr Stink etc. by David Walliams

  • Cat in the Hat, The Grinch who stole Christmas, The Lorax etc. by Dr Seuss

  • His Dark Materials trilogy by Phillip Pullman

  • Tracey Beaker, The Suitcase Kid, Best Friends etc. by Jacqueline Wilson

  • The Famous Fives series by Enid Blyton

  • Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, The Chronicles or Narnia series by Lewis Caroll

  • Sad Book, No Breathing in Class etc. by Michael Rosen

  • A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket

  • Artemis Fowl series by Eoin Colfer

  • The Worst Witch series by Jill Murphy

  • Molly Moon series by Georgie Byng

  • Chronicles of Ancient Darkness by Michelle Paver

  • Horrible Histories


See BookTrust, Oxford Owl e-book library, Oxford Reading Levels, Scholastic Reading Lists, Waterstones, Foyles, WHSmith.



TIP 2: JOIN THE LOCAL LIBRARY OR GET A BOOK SUBSCRIPTION

Regular visits to your nearest library are key to encourage children to read more books. Here they will see other children excitedly picking out their books, doing homework and responsibility using the internet.


Joining the library is free and allows access to incredible range and number of resources. Make it a fun and regular activity.

Let your child choose books they want to read from the library

If you don't have a library nearby, try a book subscription instead. On a regular interval (3 - 6 weeks) a selection of exciting book are delivered to your doorstep. This is tailored on your child's age and interests.


See The Willoughby Book Club, Bookabees, Wee Bookworms, Little Fun Club, The Beautiful Book Company.



TIP 3: USE A DICTIONARY

Dictionaries are vital at home to improve vocabulary. These show spelling and definition of words. This empowers children by making understanding new words more accessible. Pick ones which are level appropriate based on age.


I recommend ones published by Oxford.



TIP 4: USE A THEASAURUS AND RHYMING BOOK

Thesaurus is a books that lists words that have the same or similar meaning to the word the reader is searching. This is listed in alphabetical order. This supports children in making links between words and understanding meanings of words. Pick ones which are level appropriate based on age.


Rhyming book lists words that rhyme. This can be shown in picture format for younger children.


I recommend ones published by Oxford.



TIP 5: WATCH AND READ THE NEWS

This is vital to reinforce the important to learning about global and current affairs. Particularly as education and the future workplace is being more international. Make sure this is age appropriate hence I advise against using Fox News, ITV News, Sky News, Channel 4 News.


I recommend watching CBBC Newsround on the TV which usually airs at the time when children have returned home after the school day finishes.


I recommend getting school age newspapers to read. This could be newspapers the school produces, student newsletters. Check out The Week Junior for a national magazine.



TIP 6: PLAY GAMES

Flashcards are a fantastically effective learning aid at home to memorise words and associated definitions.


Fun games to play as a family include: Hangman, Pictionary, charades etc.


See Bond Vocabulary flashcards, CGP Flashcards.



TIP 7: USE WORKBOOKS

I love using workbooks with students. It provides great structure, reinforces difficult concepts and paces homework assignments. Look for ones which are age or level appropriate.


I recommend Progress with Oxford, Bond books or CGP books.



TIP 8: WATCH DOCUMENTARIES AND EDUCATIONAL TV SHOWS

CBBC is my top recommendation. I advise against YouTube Kids due to the unregulated content and high number of adverts, some of which are not appropriate.


Watching TV is great! As long as it is educational and watching time is not excessive. Don't let TV negatively impact on the homework assignments or extra-curricular activities.


Documentaries and educational TV shows I recommend:

  • Blue Planet- nature and animal documentary

  • Blue Peter- mixed TV show with arts and craft, field trips, careers, books, films, challenges

  • Deadly 60- exciting adventure show learning about exotic animals

  • Horrible Histories- history presented in a fun and comedic way



TIP 9: ATTEND A MUSICAL OR THEATRE SHOW

Watching brilliant actors bring to life language and what's written on the paper to action. Make this a special visit or a family activity.


I recommend the following venues or shows:



TIP 10: JOIN SCHOOL ACTIVITIES

Primary school often offer activities designed to enrich learning. Any of these could be offer at your school, so ask if your child can join.

  • Reading or book club

  • School library helper

  • Spelling bee

  • School council

  • Debate club

  • School newspaper

  • Summer Reading Challenge

  • World Book Day



TIP 11: WORK WITH A PRIVATE TUTOR

Working with a private tutor will be extremely beneficial, allowing personalised and focused attention for your child. This type of support is just not available in state and independent schools due to the class sizes and need to balance classroom management.


Private tuition offers a safe space where students can build confidence, get individual help and a tailored learning roadmap that focuses on their strengths and weaknesses.


Want to get amazing support during lessons and at home? Get in touch with me at Qian Tutor. Offering Maths, Science and 11+ tuition online and in Sutton.