Many times when children have language delays, they use only the main words in a sentence and leave out all of the little ones.  We say this makes their speech sound “telegraphic”.  If your child is doing this, it is important to start teaching him how to use those little words that hold all of our content words together.  Let’s start with teaching conjunctions like “and”.

Teaching Conjunctions Step 1: Combining 2 Nouns

Put two pictures in front of your child of two different objects.  Write the word “and” on a small piece of paper that will fit between the two pictures.  Have your child tell you what the picture are “cat, dog”.  Now, add the piece of paper that says “and” and read the phrase to your child while you point to each picture or word “cat and dog”.  Have your child repeat that back to you while she points to each picture/word. Tell your child that the word in the middle means “and”.  It’s important to do this step even if your child cannot read because it will help her later on down the road when she starts needing to read the word “and”.  She will have already been exposed to it.  Keep doing this until your child can answer the question “what are these?” by saying both names with “and” in the middle.

Teaching Conjunctions Step 2: Structured Conversation

Now we want to get your child to use the “and” in other tasks besides just the very controlled activity you did in step one.  Have your child answer questions while reading a book or talking about his day and see if you can catch your child leaving out an “and”.  For example, you could say “what do you see on this page?” or “what did you eat for dinner?”  Questions that require a list of answers will be great for practicing this.  If your child leaves off the “and”, gently remind him by saying “oh wait, you said more than one thing, we need to add “and” in there.  You ate chicken and corn.”  Keep doing this until your child is able to do these structured conversational tasks with you while saying “and”.

Teaching Conjunctions Step 3: Conversational Speech

Now we want to make sure your child is using “and” all of the time.  Listen for times during everyday speech that your child should have used the word “and”.  Gently remind her like you did in the previous step and have her correct it.  Eventually, she should be able to do this more on her own with fewer cues from you.

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Where to Find More Info:

This guide, along with 38 others, is included in Ms. Carrie’s E-Book: Speech and Language Therapy Guide: Step-By-Step Speech Therapy Activities to Teach Speech and Language Skills At Home or In Therapy.  This guide includes detailed information on teaching various speech and language skills, including this one, along with worksheets, handouts, sample IEP goals, data collection, and video demonstrations.  For more information, click the button below:

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