Having a wide vocabulary is important for reading comprehension. Starting in early pre-school, vocabulary is a skill that never stops developing, since we always encounter new unfamiliar words. However, at every stage of reading development, children should have a sufficient vocabulary to understand grade-level texts. Unlike other reading skills such as decoding, which depend on prior skills as well as some cognitive abilities, vocabulary development relies heavily on exposure to language, both oral and written. Can your child: 

  • Tell you the meaning of frequently encountered developmentally appropriate words? (i.e., water, door) 

  • Use the word in a sentence that makes sense? (i.e., I opened the door to let out the dog) 

  • Draw a picture of the word (for younger children)? 

If a child has difficulties developing vocabulary, they may often run into words in reading passages that they do not understand. Thus, it will be harder for the child to understand the entire meaning of the passage. In turn, children will face difficulties with both reading fluency and comprehension.