Expansion is a useful strategy for all stages of language development. In order to use the expansion strategy, you basically expand on what your child says or does. For instance, if you baby points at a toy you can expand on what she does by pointing at the toy and saying the name of the toy. If your child wants a drink and says “drink” you can expand on what your child says by saying “drink milk”. By expanding you give your child an example of what he/she could say the next time they want to communicate about that item.

This strategy works best if you expand to just above your child’s level. You can use this strategy with older children as well by expanding on what they are talking about to help improve their vocabulary.
Here are more examples on how to expand your child’s language:

  • Baby lifts up arms wanting to be picked up. Expand by picking up your baby and saying “up. up. come up.”
  • Toddler reaches for cup and grunts. Expand by giving the cup and saying “drink. (toddler’s name) drink.”
  • Child says “want cookie”. Expand by saying “You want to eat a cookie?”
  • Child says “Mama, brother is trying to eat my cookie?” You can expand by saying “Your brother will get his own cookie to gobble.” – you can use this strategy with older children to increase their vocabulary.