The general rule of thumb for sentence length is that your child’s age should be equal to the number of words they are able to string together. For example, if your child is 1-year-old then he or she should be using 1-word utterances (ex. car, go, juice). If your child is 2-years-old then he or she should be using 2-word utterances (ex. blue car, car go, or more juice). This rule usually holds true until around 5-years-old. Here are some ways you can help promote expanded utterances at home.
1. Always be one step ahead of your child. If your child is using 1-word utterances, then you should be using 2-word utterances. For example, if you child says “tree” then you should “green tree”. If your child is saying “juice” then expand upon that and say “want juice” or “more juice”.
2. Talk to your child about things you see or are doing. For example, if you are playing blocks with your child, you can talk about your actions, as well as your child’s actions. For example, “I have a blue block”, “You took the green block”, “I am making the blocks go up”, “You have a big block”. Talking to your child during activities is a naturalistic way to help increase their language skills.
3. Read books together. Help your child talk about what they see on the pages. Expand sentences based on what your child says. If your child sees a dog and says “dog”, you can say “yes, that’s a dog” or “yes, it’s a brown dog”. Check out one of my previous posts about books that encourage language development.
Remember, if you are concerned about your child’s language skills, reach out to a licensed speech and language pathologist. If your child is already in school then contact the school’s Child Study Team and request a speech and language evaluation.