A top tip for enhancing educational advantage

A top tip for enhancing educational advantage: building young children's vocabulary 


YOU can give your child a huge educational advantage.  How?  By talking with them!  With a little mindful use of vocabulary in your daily interactions, you can provide your child a significant boost.

From studies, we know that:

  • The size of children's vocabularies is related to the number and types of different words parents say when talking with their children
  • The size of children's vocabularies is strongly related to reading comprehension in both primary school and high school
  • Vocabulary growth is directly linked to overall school achievement

These research findings are not surprising if we stop and think about how vocabulary is a tool for thinking and learning about the world.


How can I “teach" these words without my child feeling like I'm trying to be a teacher?

Studies also show there are effective and easy ways to use new words in ways your children will remember vocabulary. The SSTARS strategy by Hanen is based on these studies.  It's all about replacing common words with less common words (eg. raucous for loud,  irked for annoyed) as you talk or play with your child.


Shoot for the SSTARS!

S - Stress the new word to focus the child's attention – “Look at the dog! He is really gaping at your steak!"         

S - Show the child what the word means… Mimic the dog by opening your eyes and mouth

T - Tell the child what the word means… “Gaping is when you stare with your eyes and mouth wide open."


R - Relate the word to the child's personal experiences and knowledge, as well as to other words and situations…  “You gaped just like that when you saw Leah's candy ice cream birthday cake!

S - Say it again... “You just gaped and gaped!"


Click below if you would like another example and more information on the strategy:



Developed by Dr Kristen Rosen (Speech Language Pathologist), St Peter Chanel School