Here's an official Kinetic Kids' "Top Four" post that as a parent or clinician, may come naturally, but will hopefully inspire you to think, reflect, and seek genuine, spontaneous moments of language in children!
Tip #1: Use Elements of Surprise
Nothing is more rewarding than seeing a quiet, hard-working but rather disinterested child suddenly come to life with exclamations of excitement, laughter and delight. The surprises do need to be varied and presented infrequently or they become, well, not very surprising. And some surprises might be startling or even scary for students, so you should closely monitor your child’s reactions. But the right balance of surprise can be an extremely effective tool in fostering expressive language and meaningful connections with your student. Here are a few great ideas to elicit some great surprises:
- Surprise idea #1: Motion sensor toys – We here at Kinetic Kids have had very good success with toys that come to life in song, dance moves or cascades of giggles. These toys can be found just about anywhere they sell toys.
- Surprise Idea #2: Planned “accidents” – Accidents catch people off-guard and create instant reactions. I love hearing students express their surprise, pleasure, or even worry as a train drives right off the track or crashes into another train. When a puzzle is “accidentally” knocked off the table onto the floor, I often hear complete sentences like, “Oh no, what happened? It’s okay, I’ll help you!” We work together to remedy the problem, and their spontaneous language is reinforced in a very real-word situation.
- Surprise Idea #3: Hidden objects – Find a bag and fill it with interesting objects, toys or theme accessories. Be somewhat dramatic, creating an atmosphere of anticipation, mystery and eventual excitement/awe with a mere “something” hidden in a bag. Before the big reveal, encourage your child to guess what might be in the bag, accepting and reinforcing virtually any answer but also calling attention to the bag size and shape. Kids can reach in the bag and pull out –whatever it is– which can be fun or even delightful to a curious child. Spontaneous language, as well as other targeted language concepts can be elicited as they react to what they have found. You can also hide objects buried in sand for students to discover as they dig, use the computer or smartboard to reveal hide pictures that can be revealed with the click of a mouse or stylus. Hands-on, interactive activities like these create opportunities for spontaneous language that traditional flash card or picture stimuli do not.
Tip #2: Make Mistakes
Many times when we are working with our patients, our therapists may purposefully insert mistakes to catch patients off guard and create a reaction. You too can do this at home. Often, the child's reaction involves correcting the adult's "mistake," a task eliciting language targets without direct prompting. Therapists (or the parents) may use the wrong word in a sentence and simply pause with a confused look and say, “Is that right?”
Another "mistake" is to hand your child the wrong tool or object. For instance, if you have just decided to use a certain toy or game, you might hand them a puzzle instead. Your confused look will usually elicit a reaction, and possibly a clarification of what you were supposed to get.
Tip #3: Use HumorClosely related to using elements of surprise and making mistakes, there is another skill that we here at Kinetic Kids are proud to exhibit: The ability to be silly and often make a fool of ourselves! Whether it be acting out silly animal actions, using silly voices, donning a ridiculous hat or mask, or getting goofy during some interactive play, the use of humor can elicit focused attention, interactive smiles, giggles and of course, spontaneous language. Below is an example of silly voices to engage your little one:
Tip #4: Play . . . No Really
Play, REAL play, is essential for developing spontaneous language, social skills and creativity. Many children do not know how to play. They need experience and appropriate models.
Real play should involve letting the child explore and choose what he/she wants to do, with interactions built-in to the chosen activity. Interactions are encouraged during moments of play as the child discovers what they find intriguing, amusing or just plain fun. For example, our staff may watch our patient's behavior, and join them in their exploration. As we play, we initiate dialogue using characters or toys as the “speakers." Throughout the session, we might encourage our little patients to verbalize requests or imitate words and language concepts, but our play is child-led and consists of much more than a series of commands. Using true interactive play is an engaging activity that sets the stage for spontaneous verbalizations, comments, requests and engaging time to connect.
Here Are Related Blog Articles for YouBelow lists some previous blog articles that we think may be of interest, and will also help give your amazing child some life skills that would be of benefit:
- Sensory Table Ideas [Free eBook on Creative Ways to Turn The JENGA Game Into a Therapeutic Powerhouse]
- Ways to Get an iPad for Children With Disabilities
- Does My Child Have A Problem With Sensory Processing?
Interested In More Speech Fun?
Download our UNO Articulation Game For /s/ & /z/ Sounds . . . for FREE!This game is both a fun and engaging game for children who are learning to speak or for children who benefit from pediatric speech therapy services:
Thank you so much for reading this blog post! We certainly hope that the information listed proves helpful!
Until next time . . .
Geary, L. M. (2012, April 18). Top Five Ways to Encourage Spontaneous Language [Web log post]. Retrieved from Live Speak Love, LLC website: https://livespeaklove.com/2012/04/18/top-five-ways-to-encourage-spontaneous-language/