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Jan 14

The Importance of Following Your Child’s Lead By: Lauren Billingsley, M.A., CCC-SLP

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One of the key ways parents can engage more actively with their child is through following along with what they are interested in. This could be cars, numbers and letters, or bubbles. Research has demonstrated that when we use preferred toys and activities, a child is more likely to communicate, whether that be with PECS, sign language or vocalizations. Following your child’s lead also means that if they move on to a different toy or activity, you go with them! Below are some tips and tricks for using this strategy during play activities at home:
  • Narrate your child’s actions- One way to provide language models is to narrate everything that your child is doing when they are engaging with their favorite toy or activity. This lets your child know that you are interested in what they are doing. It is also a great way to provide continuous language input.
  • Get face to face- If your child is playing on the floor, get down there with them! Sit across from them so they can see your face as you engage with them in their preferred activity. This way you can model gestures and facial expressions in addition to verbal language.
  • Copy them- Another way you can engage with your child during play is to copy whatever they are doing with a toy. If they are pushing cars off the table, you push them off too with sound effects! If your child is popping bubbles, you pop them too while saying “pop!”.  This is also a great opportunity to attempt taking turns.
  • Provide prompts- If your child is playing with their favorite toy or engaged in an activity they enjoy, they may be more likely to communicate with you. Provide prompts for them to communicate as much as possible, while still keeping it fun. This could look like saying “ready, set…” and then waiting a few seconds to see if your child will say “go!”.
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