Often when I work with children who have been diagnosed with an expressive-language delay, we (the parents and I) aim to expand utterances. For example, if a child currently uses one-word utterances, we may try to increase their mean length of utterances to 2-3 words. Although expanding utterances is just one piece of the puzzle, it is an area that parents and caregivers can help facilitate at home. Today I want to share my top 5 favorite ideas for promoting expressive language skills at home, in hopes that you will feel empowered to incorporate expressive language learning into your daily routines.
Here we go!
1. Use Clear Storage Containers: Put preferred items in clear containers. You can then put the containers out of reach, or use containers that are a little too tricky for your child to open on their own. You can be a great language model for your child when they point to the container: "Should we open it?", "Oh, I want Play Doh", "We need to take it out", etc.
2. Sabotage Craft Time: While working on a craft, hide one thing that will be needed to complete the craft (e.g. glue stick or scissors). This will promote teaching your child to ask for help and/or request objects (e.g. "I need glue").
3. Offer Choices: It's snack time and your child usually eats apple slices. Instead of asking the yes/no question, "Do you want apple slices?", try offering choices. For example, "Do you want
apple slices or grapes for snack?". If you child responds "apple slices", you can model the expanded utterance of "I want apple slices". Don't ask your child to repeat after you. Simply model and move on.
4. Let Them Take Charge: Communication is a powerful tool! Let your children help direct activities during play time. For example, when playing with bubbles, ask them where they want the bubbles "Do you want bubbles on your head or on your feet?". If you have a wind-up toy, have your child tell you "make it go" or "make it stop". Get creative and have fun!
5. Describe, describe, describe: Your children love you! They listen to everything you say (for better or worse), so talk to them! When you're at the dinner table, talk about your food. "Is it hot or cold?". "Wow, this carrot is crunchy! Is your carrot soft or crunchy?". When you're at the park, talk about the sounds you hear and the sights you see. "I hear birds chirping", "Do you see the puppy dog?", "That dog is big!", etc.
If these ideas sound simple, it's because...well, they are.
Communication is an integral part of our daily lives and although it can feel complicated, supporting expressive language learning doesn't have to be! You are awesome! Thanks for reading.