When your child was first learning to speak and read, you remember the excitement with every new word he mastered. Now that he’s in high school learning new words just doesn’t have the same sparkle. But now is one of the most important times in your child’s vocabulary development. Not only can he read, analyze, synthesize, and communicate at a higher level than ever before, he’s being tested on it in a big way. The SAT and ACT test vocabulary in a variety of ways, from the essay section, to reading comprehension, fill-in-the-blanks, and more. To help your teen tackle learning and retaining test-prep vocabulary words, here’s a collection of tried-and-true strategies:
- Look for root words. The root word of “defamation,” for example, is “fame.” This provides a starting point for understanding the meaning of the word.
- Check the word for common prefixes and suffixes. In “defame,” the prefix “de” at the beginning means “the removal of” something. So the basic definition of “defame” means “the removal of fame.”
- Ask your teenager if he can make any connections between the selected vocabulary word and other words or phrases he already knows. “Beneficent,” for example, looks like the more commonly-used words “benign” and “beneficial.”
- If the selected word was taken from a body of literature, ask your teen if he can describe the context in which it was used. Thinking about the context in which to use a word is like putting together the outside pieces of a puzzle, and can provide a vital point of reference.
- Consider your teen’s learning style:
- Does he learn best by hearing information aloud? If so, have him say the words and their definitions aloud, and put the words in sentences orally.
- Does he learn best by writing information down? In this case, copying words and definitions or rewriting notes may be helpful.
- Does he learn best by seeing information? If so, your child may be a visual learner who needs to highlight key words in the definitions. Or he may benefit from drawing a picture that represents the meaning of the word.
- Does he learn best through movement? In this case, your child may need to act out scenarios that utilize the vocabulary words.
- Have your child sort the words by their likenesses. For example, put all the adjectives in a group, the nouns in a group, and the verbs in a group. Or sort them by their meanings. Words that are similar in meaning can be grouped together, or words that are nearly the opposite in meaning can be sorted in pairs. As he sorts, he will be paying close attention to the structure and meaning of the words, which will help him to commit them to memory.