You are your child’s most important teacher. Children learn from every interaction with you and those in his/her world. Learning small ways to make the most of each moment you share with your child, can build stronger communication and language learning.
The strategies below can be implemented throughout daily activities such as bath time, cooking activities, on walks, and even riding in the car. Also, these strategies can be applied to learning at varied ages and stages. Young children learn best when adults get down on the floor and engage at their level. This allows the adult to better see and interpret the world through the child’s eyes. Older children learn best when they are allowed to explore and learn in a safe and supportive environment.
6 STEPS IN A NUTSHELL
1. Just Right Level: Children learn best when they are exposed to language, play, and activities that are a ‘just right level’ for their learning. Too hard can make kids (and adults) frustrated, and too easy or uninteresting can make them bored or walk away. Stay engaged, match their play, and work at a level that is slightly challenging, yet extremely achievable.
***Change it up! If you are too hard, make it easier. If you are being too easy, make it harder.
2. Share control: No one wants to play with a bossy Betty, well neither do our children. Allow your child to lead play. Try imitating your child’s play while adding the ‘just right level’ narration. When you child sees you imitating them, they will be more willing to imitate you and your play. Just take one turn, say one thing, or share one idea. Then wait.
***Think of your interaction as a game of tennis, not darts!
3. Provide choices: Children naturally learn about ways they can control what is around them. Some can be bossy and demanding! But when they experience control, they learn self-confidence and the value of decision making. Even when the adult provides the options, it is still a choice. They cannot wear a swimsuit, but they can choose from two pants. They cannot paint right now, but can choose between books or a puzzle. It’s not time for computer, but we can do play-doh or color together. Making choices empowers children, increases ownership and buy-in to the activity, and can help alleviates power struggles.
***Give them choices with no wrong answer, whenever possible!
4. Wait: Allow time for your child to respond. It may seem like a lifetime, but count to 10 following a language model or question. Following, if your child does not respond, provide them with a response (i.e., either model the words again and/or give them the answer to your question). This allows them to hear, process, and generate an idea for output.
***“Don’t Just Do Something, Stand There!”
5. More Comments Than Questions: Many adults naturally try to engage with children by asking them 1,000 questions. This is with good intention, but from the child’s perspective, it might start to feel like an oral exam! This can make a child simply stop responding. I like the 20% rule: for every one question asked, make five comments/observations. This helps balance the interaction and children tend to be more open to sharing a meaningful engagement.
***For every question you ask, also share 5 comments or observations to keep the tennis-game going!
6. Keep it Positive: In your time with kids, it is so important to stay positive and supportive. Ignore behaviors you don’t want, and reinforce the behaviors you want. Tell children exactly what you DO like about what they are doing. Remind them what they are doing RIGHT, as we want the words and input to echo what we would like to see again.
***Point out green flags more than red ones!
I created this blog in order to share information. The purpose of this blog is not intended to diagnose, treat, or provide professional advice for your specific child.