Gina sent this to me, because she knows this is something I believe is important. I’m a “big” advocate of using big words around kids. Obviously, there are some qualifiers to be explored. But overall, I believe parents generally don’t use enough mysterious (to them for the moment), meaningful (growing) language with children. Of course explain as you go, to be sure, but don’t shy away from using more and more elaborate language. It’s how we all learn. Kids are just way more capable than most humans to absorb it.
I think this goes for Theological/Biblical language as well. Explain UP, don’t DUMB DOWN. (I understand the need for clarity. But we need a clarity that serves people for life, not only for the moment.) We are aiming to build up understanding, not reduce the deeply meaningful, mysterious, magical wonder of Holy Scripture to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
Note: This is not an elitist position, or a stuck-up thing. It’s just about giving children more. Not more money, prestige, or high status. It’s about equipping them, endowing them, blessing them with an amazing and priceless gift. I know that writers ought to most often use the clearest, most common words, but I think that’s a bit of a different discussion.
We want our own children to have a deeper capacity. It doesn’t need to always issue in using all those words all the time. We want to expand their arsenal, not really recommend that they use the grenade launcher all the time. We just want them to have more than a squirt gun. Though often a squirt gun is called for.
Here’s an excerpt from the article by Amanda Morgan:
Don’t shy away from the big words. It is very common for adults to simplify their language when talking to young children. Instead of referring to the veterinarian, we talk about the “animal doctor”. While a sentence full of new words would be a bit overwhelming for anyone, throwing in a new word now and then is a great opportunity to build vocabulary! If we are referring to the veterinarian, we should use that word, offering “animal doctor” as an explanation, and then referring to “veterinarian” a few more times in the conversation. If you’re explaining what something is, you might as well use the right word the first time. Children may not always pick up on those big words, but they certainly won’t if they don’t ever hear them. There isn’t much opportunity for growth if we’re always using words they already know. So go ahead, use words like “identical” instead of “same” and “metamorphosis” instead of “change”. You’ll be surprised at what your children will pick up on when you give them the chance!