How to Model Language with Toddlers (ages 1-3)

By 3, a child will typically produce 3-4 word phrases, make animal and environmental sounds, name most common objects, produce personal pronouns, answer yes/no questions, and request using power words. 

As these skills are emerging, you may want to see your child demonstrate these skills. 

 Here are some ways language can be modeled:

  • Child is playing with a truck on a slide. “Whoa, look at the truck! It’s going up-up-up, weeee!”
  • Child is playing with a baby doll. “Uh oh, baby is crying, she needs mama. ‘Mama, where are you? Mama help!’” 

The adult is modeling language a child can imitate that is also describing the play routine, so it is relevant and fun for the child. It’s like watching a cartoon while listening to the narrator tell the story. Language is easily listened to and absorbed this way. There is no pressure or demands placed on the child to speak, and when they feel ready, they may begin to try producing sounds and words next time they play. Think about modeling simple, every-day language with your child throughout their day, and give them the space and time to feel ready to try saying new words and phrases too.



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