It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Word girl

“Look, Mary.” Emily points, interested. “That cyclist is standing up on her pedals.”

‘Cyclist’, she says. Not ‘bicycler’ (incorrect but common amongst pre-schoolers), ‘bike-rider’, or even ‘girl’. But ‘cyclist‘. The best, most accurate word. The English teacher in me is thrilled.

“What a good vocabulary you have, Emily!”

“What’s that?”

“‘Vocabulary’, you mean?”

“Yes. What’s a vo-ca-blue-airy.” She frowns. She knows it’s not quite right, but not sure where she’s gone wrong.


“Yes! What’s a vocabulary?” She enunciates slowly and carefully. And accurately.

“It’s all the words you know. If you know lots of words, and many of them are big words, and if you can use them properly, you have a good vocabulary. YOU have a good vocabulary. There are lots of interesting words in your vocabulary, and you use them well.”

“I have a good vocabulary!” She’s quite pleased with the notion. Her eyes widen and sparkle. “And it’s even better now?”

“It is?”

“Yes, because ‘vocabulary’ is in my vocabulary!!”

Love that kid.

June 21, 2011 - Posted by | Emily, the things they say! | , ,


  1. Hi Mary,
    Not a comment about this post – couldn’t work out the best way to communicate with you!
    I run a pre-school in the UK (, and I am hoping to add some fact/advice sheets to the website. Your tantrum series is the best I’ve ever found for advice on this tricky bit of behaviour management – would it be possible to reproduce it or link to it from my website (obviously with full credits)?
    Many thanks for this (and all the other brilliant advice I have been reading here over the last couple of years!),

    Comment by Kath B | June 21, 2011 | Reply

  2. That is delightful. A clever girl who loves words, what a treasure.

    She absolutely is. Emily will be graduating my care and heading off to full-day school in September, and I am going to miss her!

    Comment by Z | June 21, 2011 | Reply

  3. Aww!! Make me want to hug the stuffing out of her! Emily seems like such a bright girl, and a sweet big sister too.

    She got that hug, for sure. She’s such a sweetie, and yes, she’s very nice to her ‘little’ brother. (They’re close in age, and while she takes after her petite mother, little brother takes after tall dad. I predict that within another couple of years at most, he’s going to be bigger than his ‘big’ sister.)

    Comment by jess | June 22, 2011 | Reply

  4. Oh man, I hope my kid ends up like that.

    Comment by IfByYes | June 22, 2011 | Reply

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