Use of Language


Expressive language means your child’s use of language, including the words they use and how they can combine words in sentences. As children develop, their vocabulary increases and they can use more complex sentence structures.

In Reception, children can usually:

  • explain meaning of simple words
  • describe similarities and differences
  • can talk more about experiences
  • may have some grammatical errors that persist e.g. irregular plurals, e.g. ‘sheeps’ / past tense e.g. ‘goed’
  • can retell a story with increasing accuracy.

You can help by:

  • Providing a good model for the child. Speak clearly and not too quickly.
  • Giving time for the child to respond. Don’t be afraid of silences as these may encourage the child to ‘fill the gaps’.
  • Commenting on what the child is doing to allow them to hear the appropriate language.
  • Using modelling strategies e.g. repeating back what the child has said using correct grammar or expanding on the information the child has given.
  • Not asking the child to repeat back (‘parrot’) exactly what you have said. However, the child may do this spontaneously.
  • Avoiding the use of too many questions as this can put pressure on the child. Try not to ask ‘What’s this?’ constantly when looking at books.
  • When you do need to ask questions, the use of open questions (those requiring more than a one word answer) can be useful to encourage more language.

  • Encourage your child to think and talk about what is going to happen in the day or has happened- start to talk about time as well as encouraging sequencing skills which are important to develop sentences
  • Keep teaching them new words that have similar meanings i.e. if they know what a coat is then teach them body warmer, rain mac, fleece etc.
  • Guess the object- choose an object (could be a selection of objects in a bag) and describe it to the other person- can they guess what it is?
  • Continue to share stories and talk about the story together – talk about ‘who’ is in the story, ‘where’ are they, what happens in the story.
  • Find objects that ‘go together’- it might be because they move in the same way, are the same colour, we do the same thing with them i.e. eat them, drive them etc.
  • Tell me a story- using a familiar book or children’s TV programme. Encourage your child to tell you the story or what has happened in the book or what they have watched on TV. Perhaps they could tell ‘teddy’ a bedtime story.
  • Start to try telling jokes together!!