Every day is a learning day with your little one. We have talked about the development of language before and about various language milestones that you can re-visit here in our blog. However, today we will focus on a very important piece of language: Grammar.
Grammar is a set of rules that helps us put words and ideas into phrases that anyone can understand. Our little one’s set of rules starts developing at a very young age, and grammar becomes a useful tool every time she wants to express an idea.
How does grammar develop?
It will do so as children are exposed to language. That’s why it is so important to provide your little one with learning opportunities and model a varied and complex language for her to be able to use it later on.
Between 25-30 months old, she might start using more than one word per phrase or even use possessives. For example, “Daddy ,like” or “Mommy, out” and we can see complexity starting to rise. Your daughter might even start using suffixes, changing “jump” for “jumping”. During this stage, we can help her develop a better use of grammar with these techniques:
- When she attempts to say a word and it comes out wrong, repeat the word clearly one time, or use questions like “What did you say?”. According to a study on indirect techniques when correcting language, this technique helps your little one change to the correct pronunciation. It might take a few attempts or get it right with the first try!
- Show you are interested in whatever she wants to express, and respond to her modeling more complex phrases. Whatever she says, try to build it up a little. For example, if she says, “Daddy here!”, you can say “Yes, daddy just arrived home from the supermarket.”
- Read a book. Story time can be a great opportunity to hear and absorb the correct use of grammar. Read books at a steady pace, with the right volume and pronunciation, so she can take it all in.
Your child’s set of grammar rules will continue to grow during the next stages. When she is 31-36 months old, she might start using plurals, past tense, or make up longer sentences. She might even answer questions or explain her drawings and experiences; though at times you might be the only who understands her. This stage can be a great opportunity to work on grammar. To make it fun, you can use some of these activities:
- Narrative play: When you are playing together describe what you are doing. You can take turns. Go first and model how to describe the actions you are doing during the game and then your little one can go next. You will have a blast listening to her creative ideas!
- Ask questions: Whenever you have time, start asking open questions. Ask about what she likes best, about her favorite foods, favorite colors, or whatever suits you better. If necessary, indirectly correct the use of grammar.
- Ask about the number, size, and shape of the things she shows you.
- Telling stories: Story time is about to evolve! Give her a book, show her the pictures, and ask her to tell you a story using them. She might use simple sentences, which, in case of mistakes, gives you a chance to model the correct form. If you give her a chance to repeat the story a few times, you might see she starts using the language you just modeled!
- Pretend play: The benefits of pretend play have been mentioned in our blog before (hyperlink a https://blog.kinedu.com/the-benefits-of-pretend-play-on-childrens-development/) and this type of play gives you another chance to model language or for your daughter to imitate you. It might help her retrieve the words and phrases she has been listening to.
- Describe: Model how you describe a noun. You can start with easier ones, like a cup or a chair, and then escalate to some nouns that might be more fun to talk about. For example, a toy, a friend, or a grandparent.
- Sentence construction: Give your child some words for her to sequence and form simple sentences. You can have pictures to represent the words or maybe just do it orally.
Language is a beautiful skill that will help your little one navigate through life. You will love to help her improve her use of it. Enjoy!
Read more on the technique: Indirect techniques