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Language strategies: Extension

What can I do to support my child’s language development?

Language difficulties are nobody’s fault, but changing the way you talk can really help your child.

When your child says a word or sentence, say it back to them but add on one more word. For example your child may say “dog!” and you could add, “Yes dog running”.

Use this strategy at any time
  • when playing
  • looking at a book
  • out and about
  • everyday situations

This strategy is very effective at helping a child move from single words to 2 word phrases, or from 2 word phrases to 3 word sentences, and on and on!

You can add different types of words.

Action words

‘toes’…”yes washing toes”

‘bird’…”yes bird flying”

Describing words

‘bus’…”yes red bus”

‘socks’…”yes spotty socks”

Places

‘daddy gone?’…”yes daddy gone home”

‘teddy hiding chair’…”yes teddy’s hiding under the chair”

Add all sorts of new words to make a longer sentence, but try to keep it simple. The new sentence needs to be just one step harder than the sentence level your child is currently using.

Why use this strategy?

It is very effective at helping children build up the length of their phrases and sentences.

It gives a perfect model of the next stage of sentence building. It is not too long or overwhelming and it uses their talking as a starting point, showing them how easy it is to make it longer.

Information:

By adding just one more word to their talking, they are more likely to try and copy you than if you used longer sentences.

By reinforcing what they are saying, you are:

  • showing you are listening
  • giving them praise for their talking
  • showing you understand and value their comments

It is more likely to result in a little ‘conversation’ between you, as you ‘follow their lead’ of conversation topic, and add a little bit more interesting information.

Additional resources and information

Your first stop for information on children’s communication. Here you can find information to help you understand and support children and young people’s speech, language and communication: Talking Point

Visit the online hub of free advice and resources for parents with children facing difficulties in speaking and understanding language: I Can

Activities for parents, children and young people to improve their language, literacy and communication skills from home: Words For Life

An article on: Helping Your Child to Talk

Helping you help children to communicate: The Hanen Centre

The Giving Voice campaign aims to ‘give voice’ to people with speech, language and communication needs: Giving Voices 

Contact us

For more information please contact the Speech and Language Therapy Service at Flockton House on 0114 226 2333.

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Disclaimer

Please note this is a generic information sheet relating to care at Sheffield Children’s. The details in this resource may not necessarily reflect treatment at other hospitals. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professionals’ instructions. If this resource relates to medicines, please read it alongside the medicine manufacturer’s patient information leaflet. If you have specific questions about how this resource relates to your child, please ask your doctor.

Resource number: SL27

Resource Type: Article

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