We have written several posts about encouraging children to say their first words and begin linking them together. For example, Help! My toddler isn’t talking, Top Tips for putting words together and Top Tips for verbs. However, some children get a bit stuck at this stage. They may have quite a varied vocabulary and be starting to put 2-4 word phrases together but they haven’t really moved on to using whole sentences when other children have.
Today I am going to share some tips and ideas of things to try if your child needs encouragement to put longer sentences together.
- When your child says something, say it back for them to hear, but add one or two words to it. For example, if they say “man in car”, you could say “that’s right, the man is in the car”. Don’t ask them to repeat this back again, though if they do this naturally then that’s fine! Just focus on showing them how to do it. The more they hear the correct sentence, the more likely they are to use it themselves.
- Get your child to go and find out what other people around the house are doing. You could use toys as well for this. For example, “daddy is watching TV” or “teddy is sleeping in bed”. If your child misses part of the sentence, say it back as described above, adding a word or two.
- Reading books is a great way to expand sentences. Use simple books that your child knows well. Read a couple of pages and then ask them what happens next. Use the pictures to help. If your child is only talking about part of the story, point to the part they have missed and see if they can add to what they said. Familiar books are a great place to start as they may well remember what the book says and so this will help them to practise using a longer sentence. Then move on to books they do not know so well.
- Prompt your child to add to what they have said by asking a simple question. For example, if your child says “man sitting” you could ask “where is he sitting?” and point to the chair. Then model back the whole sentence at the end.
- Hide things around the house for your child to find. When they have found them see if they can tell you what they found and where. For example, “the car is under the table”, or “the bus is in the box”.
- Take pictures through the day or throughout a particular game or activity. Then look through them with your child and see if they can give a simple sentence about each one to say what they did. For example, “I play on the swing…. I play on the slide… I ride my bike”.
What other activities and ideas do you use to encourage children to use longer sentences?