Expanding Language

Supporting your child’s speech and language development

• Talk to your child when you play and do activities together

Follow your child’s lead and comment on items and activities that they are showing interest in, for example, “blue truck” as your child is playing with transport toys. You can also comment about everyday activities (e.g. “brushing teeth”) or events (e.g. “daddy’s home”).

• Keep it short

Use short, simple sentences so your child can attempt to copy what you are saying.

• Expand on what your child is saying

Start using sentence that have one more word than what the child is currently using. You can add on an action word (“drive car”), colour (“red car”), size (“big block”), or person (“my bottle”).

• Reduce questions

Reduce the number of questions that you ask your child during the day and during play. Parents often ask their children lots of questions when they want their child to talk more. These are unnecessary demands that can make play hard work for your child! Instead, comment and label actions and items during play.

• Repeat what your child says

If your child is making vocalisations (e.g.: “mmmm” “baba”) or attempting to say words, repeating what they are saying and taking turns can show your child that you are listening to them and make it into a fun activity.

• Singing songs

When singing a song with your child and miss out the last line of the song and wait for your child to finish it. For example, “twinkle twinkle little…”

• Create opportunities for communication

Rather than assuming all of your child’s wants and needs, create opportunities and wait for them to initiate. For example, have the child’s favorite toy out of reach so they have to ask you for it.

• Provide choice questions

When asking your child what they would like, give them two choices. The child must then indicate what it is that they want through either reaching, pointing or vocalizing. Gradually increase your expectation.

• Provide gestures when you are giving instructions

When giving an instruction, provide a gesture, such as pointing, when you are telling them what to do. This will focus the attention to the key words and provide visual information that will assist with comprehension.

• Reinforce!

Provide reinforcement for all of your child’s communication attempts.