Adding Language to help your Child Communicate

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Once your child uses about 50 words or signs, he or she may be ready to combine words into short sentences. Adding a variety of words to your interactions with your child is like giving your child the building blocks for combining words into sentences. You might already be using lots of names for the things around you such as  “book” “doggie” or “teddy”.

Different types of words to add:

  • Action words, for example sleep, cuddle, read, kiss

  • Location words, for example, up, down, under, on, in

  • Words that describe, for example, big, soft, fuzzy, crunchy, smooth

  • Words that express belonging, for example, my, Mummy’s

  • Social words: nigh-nigh, bye-bye, hi

Action words are a great place to start because your child can combine these easily into two-word sentences, for example sleep → “Doggie sleep” or read → “Read book”.

Expand your child’s message: As well as adding a variety of words, you can help your child speak in longer sentences by expanding their message, for example:

Child: “Mummy apple!”

Parent: “Yes, Mummy is eating an apple” or “You want mummy to get you an apple?”

Extending your child’s message: Another way to help your child speak in longer sentences is to extend her message, for example:

Child: “Train!”

Parent: “Yes the train is GOING FAST!” or “It’s a BIG BLUE train!”

Tips for expanding and extending your child’s messages:

  • Respond with a slightly longer sentence.

  • Always include your child’s words to make the sentence more complete.

  • Keep your sentences short, but grammatical, for example “the ball is in the box” instead of “ball in”.

When your child starts to put two words together, in sentences such as “Hi Mum” “Go Daddy” “Doggie eat” you will know you have given your child the building blocks of communication by using a variety of words, and expanding and extending your child’s messages.

Remember that children need to hear lots of repetitions of a word before they will start using them themselves and that persistence and repetition is key!