As educators, we are often asked the “key” to success for our students. What are the most important areas of study that will translate into success in the future?

Reading – Writing – Mathematics?

STEM subjects?

The Arts?

Physical Education?

Or is the search fruitless? Does it depend on the direction of one’s life?

Although all the subjects are important, thanks to a variety of studies done over the years, we do have an answer to one key aspect that will mean success for you children.

An extensive study, done over 20 years, tracked a group of University students. The students were given a vocabulary test that rated them in 20 groups of 5% increments. The students were regularly interviewed over the 20 year period to track their occupations and salaries. Regardless of their degree or overall grades in university, the students who ranked highest in the vocabulary test had the highest salaries.

Another study of over 2,000 factory employees rated their vocabulary scores against their positions in the company. The results clearly demonstrated the correlation between vocabulary and salary level.

Position in Factory Score out of 272
Presidents/Vice Presidents 236
Managers 168
Superintendents 140
Foremen 114
Line Workers 86

When we walk into a job interview, we can wear fancy clothes, we can drive nice cars, we can have immaculate grooming but we can’t disguise our vocabulary. How we use the language can have a huge impact on our life.

Not only for our salaries but also our emotional health and happiness. Having a larger vocabulary helps us express our needs, desires, and concerns more effectively. This ability gives us an opportunity to be heard and understood by our loved ones, our health care professionals, and our co-workers and peers.

So what can you do about your child’s vocabulary?

Here are 9 tips to help increase your child’s vocabulary.
1) Read with your child every day including letting them read to you.

2) Have your child tell you a story. Let them make up a story based on a place or scenario you provide.

3) Use grown up words in conversation with your children. Give them exposure to more words even at a very young age.

4) Have conversations frequently. Turn off the TV and tablets and talk about your day.

5) Play word games. Not only Scrabble but word games in the car while you are heading for your next sports practice.

6) Label things in your house (with multiple words when appropriate like faucet and tap).

7) Listen to your child’s vocabulary and encourage them to ask about words they don’t know. Be patient with the explanations. The difference between big and enormous can be challenging for children.

8) Teach by example – when you find a new word, show your child how you learn it.

9) Take opportunities to teach words that are location centric like the zoo, the bank, and the grocery store.

As much as possible, make learning new vocabulary a part of everyday life and have fun with it. Make it a game and watch your children flourish in school and life.