Using Verbs in Phrases
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Using Verbs in Phrases

  • PDF

We have officially reached the last lesson on verbs! This means it is time to take all the new verb skills your child has learned, and apply them to building phrases. This is a key part in helping them use expand their vocabularies and use sentence structures to better communicate their thoughts, ideas, and opinions. You and your child have worked so hard to reach this point - and you should be immensly proud!

This lesson will cover some ideas you can implement at home to help your child start incorporating verbs in phraes. Let's get started!

Naturally Expanding Your Child’s Phrases

Language expansion is a helpful technique that encourages your child to apply words they already use in building longer phrases. It's simple! When targeting verbs in phrases, model the verb your child is saying in a phrase that is one to two words longer than what they are offering. Let’s do a few examples together!

Let’s say your child is commenting “eat!” to communicate that they are currently eating, signal they're hungry, or request more food. In response, you can model something like “eat cookie!” or “more eat!” If they already are saying two word phrase such as “eat cookie,” then you can model something a litle longer, such as “eat cookie please!” or “eat more cookies!”

You can also target similar activities when reading books with your child. If your child points to a picture and says “run” to comment on the dog's actions in the photos, use this opportunity to model “dog runs!” Again, if they are already using two word phrases like “dog runs” independently, then increase the phrase length and model “dog runs fast!”

As our phrases get longer, they get more detailed and more specific. This is exactly what you want your child to do - start to stringing phrases together. Their sentences will continue to gain more specificity and more accurately describe their situations or observations. Furthermore, this will make their requests and comments much easier to understand, and help them become a more mature sounding talker.

Imitation of Phrases Vs. Spontaneous Phrases

When initially targeting phrases, your child will likely need you to initially model the phrase yourself. As they start imitating these phrases more and more, and becoming a more confident communicator, they will inch closer to spontaneous phrases. In other words, they'll start independently incorporating verbs into their comments, requests, and observations without your cues. This is a huge milestone on the path to language independence - and is super exciting!

How Often to Practice

As mentioned, we encourage you to practice verbs for about 15 minutes a day. If you want to get technical, this is still a great starting point. However, modeling good phrases for them can be easily done by just purposefully speaking with your child frequently - when they are playing, eating, preparing for bed, etc. That way, they always have an easily attainable speech model they can imitate in that moment.

Don’t forget: try not to “quiz” your child too often. If they are struggling, simply help them out by providing models and cues. And make sure to move on or visit your practice if you sense your child is becoming frustrated or discouraged.

One technique to help decrease frustration is by consistently praising your child. Whenever they imitate your model, or use any spontaneous phrase, shower them with tons of praise! Their little brains are learning so much and developing so fast, so be sure to recognize this hardwork!

Implementing activities like these into your child's daily routines will drastically help them carry over newfound skills into everyday environments. With a little practice, they'll be well on their way to better speech!


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