A great way to help your child with their speech and language development is to use expanded sentences. You can expand nearly any utterance made by you or your child. The use of expanded sentences helps your child learn correct grammar and helps build their vocabulary.
What do I mean by “expanded sentences?” Basically, expanding a sentence simply means adding content to a sentence without changing the meaning. For example, your 15 month old points to her toy and says “ball!” To expand her sentence, you might say the following: “Yes, ball! It’s a red ball. It’s a big, red ball.” Notice how I created three simple, grammatically correct sentences from the word “ball.” Each sentence increased in length and added vocabulary, yet they were each simple and age-appropriate for the child. This technique can be used for nearly any sentence uttered by you or your child.
What about expanding one of your own sentences? Let’s say that your child is taking a bath. You show your child her toy duck and you say, “Duck! Look, baby, a duck! This is a yellow duck. A little, yellow duck. The duck says ‘quack.'” Again, notice how I started with a one-word utterance. Next, I added a verbal command (look!) to elicit a response. Once I had the child’s attention, I began lengthening the utterance and adding vocabulary.
Something else to keep in mind is the rate at which you speak. These sentences should be uttered at a slow, natural rate of speech to increase the probability that the child will understand the utterances. It takes much longer for children to process language than it does for adults, so remember to give them time to understand. If you want more information about rate of speech, please visit my post about it here.
Expanding sentences is a very simple, yet very effective strategy, and it can be used in nearly every situation. Have fun with it! See how many utterances you can expand in different situations throughout your day. You’ll be amazed at how many learning opportunities are so easily created for your child!
Until next time,