As a parent, it’s more than likely you are craving more information, looking for more ideas which will facilitate your child’s understanding and use of language. These days there is so much information available to us, it’s difficult to know where to begin, what materials are worth purchasing, and if these ideas are truly worth your time. The following activities are intended to be used with all ages, little or no materials, and can be done on the go – wherever you are.
The first activity is to promote the understanding and eventual use of longer sentences, so we will call it just that – expanding sentences. Expanding sentences should involve modeling your child’s utterance with the addition of 1-2 words at most. Therefore, if your child’s current average sentence length is primarily 1-word utterances, you should model 2-3 word utterance. During this activity, the purpose is simply to model longer utterances and expose your child to more language, not necessarily to have them repeat after you (although if they do it on their own, great!).
Let’s break it down. In scenario 1, you and your child are in the car and aside from “singing”, you hear them say “Car!” (or some resemblance of the word). Most parents will naturally acknowledge and respond to their child with something like, “You see the car? Car says ‘beep-beep’. Tell me ‘beep-beep’. That’s a fast car. Mommy wants that car.” A response like this may be too much for your child to truly process. So going back to scenario 1, your child says, “Car” and you repeat with an expansion using 1-2 additional words. An appropriate response may be, “Hi car,” “Car beep,” or “Red car”. Expanding sentences does not only apply to early language use, but can be applied to the language of older children as well. For example, if your child needs assistance using descriptor words, repeat their sentence with some modification and insertion of a descriptor word. For example, if you child says, “I see the car” you can reply with, “You see the fast car,” “You see the burgundy car,” or “You see the expensive car.” These are great opportunities for you to model new vocabulary and how to incorporate existing vocabulary into their sentences.