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 they want 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 them to be able to use it later on.
Between 25-30 months old, they 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 little one might even start using suffixes, changing “jump” for “jumping”. During this stage, we can help them develop a better use of grammar with these techniques:
- When they attempt 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 they might get it right with the first try!
- Show you are interested in whatever they want to express, and respond to them by modeling more complex phrases. Whatever they say, try to build it up a little. For example, if they 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 they can take it all in.
Your child’s set of grammar rules will continue to grow during the next stages. When they are 31-36 months old, they might start using plurals, past tense, or make up longer sentences. They might even answer questions or explain their drawings and experiences; though at times you might be the only who understands them. 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 their creative ideas!
- Ask questions: Whenever you have time, start asking open questions. Ask about what they like best, about their 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 they show you.
- Telling stories: Story time is about to evolve! Give them a book, show them the pictures, and ask them to tell you a story using them. They might use simple sentences, which, in case of mistakes, gives you a chance to model the correct form. If you give them a chance to repeat the story a few times, you might see they start using the language you just modeled!
- Pretend play: The benefits of pretend play have been mentioned in our blog before, and this type of play gives you another chance to model language or for your little one to imitate you. It might help them retrieve the words and phrases they have 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 them 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 helping them improve their use of it. Enjoy!
Read more on the technique: Indirect techniques