Mary Myatt

Word up! Take primary pupils back to their roots

Introducing etymology, the study of the origins of words, can give children a better grasp of key concepts across different subject areas, says Mary Myatt

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There are four-year-olds who are fluent in dinosaurs. Some of them even know that “dinosaur” comes from the Greek for “scary lizard”. And some can tell us that “tyrannosaurus rex” means “tyrant king lizard”.

So what? Well, I reckon it’s something we could be capitalising on – children’s interest in and playfulness with big words. Something happens along the way where we feel that we have to water things down, make things accessible, instead of giving young people difficult words and talking to them about where the words come from. Not just the definitions, which only take us so far, but also ...

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