Children move from using only single words and then begin to put two words together. They may say, “Doggy run”, “Mummy bread” or “me eat”. From here we want their sentences to grow. Expansion and extension are two ways for you to help your child develop their expressive language.

Language expansion ‘expands’ the utterances of your child by you ‘repeating’ back what your child has said but using proper grammar. You expand the phrases, acknowledge your childmaintain the meaning and keep the words that your child has already used.

Child: Doggy run. (when they see a dog running in the park or in a book or cartoon)
Adult: Yes! The dog is running.
Child: Big dog.
Adult: Yes. The dog is big!

Apart from making the phrases into complete sentences, adding new information to the existing phrases helps elaborate and enrich what your child has said.

Language extension ‘extends’ the utterances of your child by using proper grammar and also introduces new vocabulary.

Child: Baby cry.
Adult: Yes. The baby’s crying. He is thirsty.
Child: Baby juice.
Adult: Yes. The baby is drinking juice. It’s orange juice.

Try incorporating these strategies throughout the day, e.g. bath time, snack time, in the playground. Keep it natural and use engaging intonation to stress the key words that you want your child to ‘learn’. Don’t make your child repeat you – it is enough for them to hear what you say. Have fun together and make the interactions enjoyable and meaningful!