Given the fact that each and every child will always develop at an entirely different rate, it can be difficult to know when and where there is a genuine speech and language issue to acknowledge. These days, a qualified speech therapist in London will be able to assist with almost any problem that comes along during childhood, with approaches to treatment and long-term speech coaching having been nothing short of revolutionised over recent years. But at the same time, most speech therapists would agree that the vast majority of queries brought their way amount to nothing more than the usual stepping-stones on the way to fluency.
One of the most important things any parent can do for their own child is to be proactive when it comes to encouraging things like vocabulary development, sentence building and generally gaining confidence in communicating. Sentence building in particular tends to be a stage where a lot of children get stuck as while they may have a relatively varied vocabulary, putting together sentences of more than three or four words can prove difficult.
So with this in mind, here’s a quick rundown of just a few tips and ideas from the experts on how to help and encourage younger children to begin building longer sentences:
- First of all, it is important to remember that leading by example will always be the most effective way of teaching your children to do pretty much anything at all. In this instance, it can be beneficial to listen to what your child has to say, after which you then repeat it back to them but with a couple of extra words added in. If for example your child was to say “daddy drive” you could say “yes, daddy is driving the car”. Bear in mind that you are not doing this expecting them to then repeat the longer sentence back to you. Instead, you’ll slowly but surely begin instilling these additional words and sentence structures in their minds.
- Another helpful tip for encouraging proactive speech and sentence development in general is to ask your child to wander around the house and find out what’s happening. They may come back and tell you that “daddy sleeping” or “James cartoons” after which you can follow the same guideline above and add a few words in your response. And of course, plenty of praise at all times.
- Reading will always be a fantastic way of improving your child’s vocabulary and understanding of speech and communication in general. When it comes to improving their ability with sentences however, it’s a good idea to stick with simple books they know by heart, in order to ask them plenty of questions. Ask them what happens next, ask them what is happening right now and ask them questions about the characters, the pictures and so on. If it is a subject they are interested in, they will be inherently more motivated to converse.
- Always seek to expand on what your child tells you by asking for additional information. For example, if your child was to say something like “daddy sitting” you could then ask your child where he is sitting. You’re basically making efforts to expand on single words and shorter sentences with the intention of creating a full sentence, which you yourself can then speak to the child as mentioned earlier.
- Play a treasure hunt with your child by hiding items, toys or treats around the house in strategic locations. Perfect examples being on the table, under the table, in the box, on the chair and so on – each time they find something, you ask them what it is and where it is. This is a great way of putting a little fun and enjoyment into the learning process and can be even more enjoyable outdoors.
- Last but not least, there’s always the option of creating one of the most helpful resources you will ever lay your hands on, when it comes to helping your child improve their speech and language development in general. From an early age, begin taking photographs of your child doing as many day to day activities as possible and assemble something of a scrapbook. Over time, you can continually refer back to this picture book with your child and encourage them to identify what it is they are doing and slowly but surely describe it accordingly. “I ride my bike” or “I play with daddy in the garden” and so on – seeing themselves in the action and remembering enjoyable times will always nurture and encourage motivation, confidence and development.