5 tips to build your child’s vocabulary for the 11+ exam

Did you know your child is exposed to roughly 1,000 new words every year? 

The 11+ exams are age-standardised for this very reason. However, it’s still crucial to start early in developing their vocabulary skills. And not just so they can ace the exam…

Having a broad vocabulary improves social skills and boosts confidence all the way through to adulthood.

So, we have put together five of the most effective tips for helping you expand your child’s vocabulary.


1. Encourage reading & reading to them

An obvious one, but essential! Reading aloud to your child is probably the best way to help build their vocabulary. And getting them to read to you can be even more beneficial.

Write down all the words they didn’t know or understand after finishing a chapter, then look them up and explain each one. After that, you can re-read the chapter with their new understanding.

You can find an 11+ reading list here. Try to incorporate a mix of authors and fiction/non-fiction.

2. Use flashcards

You probably used them yourself when you were in school. And there’s a reason flashcards are still a go-to learning resource – they’re effective

You can get creative by making/decorating them with your child which is an added way of helping with their visual memory too. Click here to download an 11+ vocabulary list for some words you might want to include.


3. Make it fun!

The 11+ process can be a lonely one, so I’d recommend getting your whole family involved and making it fun where you can.

You could turn flashcards into a family guessing game using synonyms and antonyms. Set a word of the day that the entire family tries to use. Or there are vocabulary-expanding games like Scrabble (a classic!), Boggle, and Bananagrams – just keep a dictionary handy.


4. Have two-way conversations, and often

But don’t dumb down your own vocabulary. Encourage your child to ask questions if they don’t know a word. And try to get them to properly use the words they’ve been learning. 

Words need context, so using them in conversations as frequently as possible will help cement their meaning.


5. Write it (and share!)

It’s not just reading that’s important to develop a good vocabulary. Writing new words in stories and sentences is another excellent way for your child to learn them. But don’t force subjects they aren’t interested in. 

You can encourage writing by posting some of their most creative work on the fridge, or sending it to family members.

After all, writing is meant to be shared.

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