Vocabulary and Context Clues – Reading Comprehension Series

Helping children develop their reading skills requires some essential tools, like print awareness, phonological awareness, decoding and sight word skills. With these tools in their belt, children are ready to take on their final steps toward reading comprehension. In this final blog post of our Reading Comprehension Series, we're going to discuss how Speech Language Pathologists encourage new readers to use their skills to learn new vocabulary.


Whether a child is reading, playing, or listening to speech, they're encountering new words every day. When we're teaching vocabulary directly to them in Speech Therapy or at home, there are a few tips to keep in mind to make sure they're absorbing the material and it's not too overwhelming:

  • Be specific – avoid using words like this, that, here, there, thing and other non-specific words

  • Introduce a variety of word types – It's easy to stick to naming things you see (nouns) and do (verbs), but it's important to describe them too! Adjectives (e.g. big, small) can describe nouns, and adverbs (e.g. fast, slow) can describe verbs.

  • Start with the most basic form of a word that will be used the most regularly, and then increase in complexity when needed (e.g. "house" --> "habitat" --> "abode")

  • When reading a new vocabulary word in a book, try out these tips:

Stress the new word by saying it louder

- "Mr. Jenkins loves to EXPLORE."

Match it to a picture or action if possible

- "Look, he's exploring in the forest."

Describe what it means or use a synonym

- "Exploring is when you're searching for new things or a new place."

Relate it to your child's personal experiences

- "Remember when we went on our hike last weekend? We got to explore the trails!"

Repeat the word throughout yo