Imitation is a powerful and important skill to teach your child. The more your child is able to imitate the better he will be at learning new sounds and words. Imitation also creates and increases social connections.
Ways to work on imitation:
- Imitate back. Copy your child’s movements and sounds and then wait. If your child makes another movement or sound then imitate it back. This is a great way to get imitation started. Imitating your child will help your child learn how to imitate you.
- Imitating big whole body movements is easiest followed by small body movements, sounds and then words.
- Encourage movements and sounds so you have something to imitate back.
- For whole body movements try jumping, spinning, stamping your feet, shaking a body part, waving, etc. Sing songs with lots of big movements such as the Hokey Pokey.
- For small body movements try tapping on a table, clapping your hands, opening your mouth really wide, smacking your lips, yawning, blowing etc. Play with simple toys such a drum, building blocks, rolling cars or bouncing a ball.
- For sounds try:
– Making sounds in a place that echoes such as the bathroom or empty garage.
– Using paper towel rolls to amplify your voice or to use as a “telephone”.
– Singing – especially songs with lots of repetition and actions.
– Using horns, kazoos, whistles and harmonicas.
– Making sounds into a pail, large empty tin can or any large container that gives an echo.
– Using microphones – toy and real ones.
– Making fun sounds: Pant like a dog, Gasp, Squeal, Scream, Grunt with effort, Yawn, Fake cough, Fake sneeze, Car/Truck noises, Siren noise, Fake laugh, Fake cry, Whine, Snore, Slurp with drinking, Exhale after drink, Shiver, “Sh!” for quiet, Growl, Monster sounds
- When doing an action add a sound or word to it. This makes it much more powerful. Sounds and words that are “silly” especially if they repeat, such as “Oh Oh, Bye Bye, Yum Yum, and Boom Boom” often get children’s attention and are some of the first words that children will say.
- Try imitating emotions. Often it helps to really over exaggerate the emotion and be silly. Look through books and imitate the emotions as they come up.
- Try copying in front of a mirror – a bathroom mirror, a handheld mirror or a full length one.
- Use lots and lots of wait time. Parents often fill in the quiet spaces when children are not saying very much yet. The wait time allows your child to take his turn in the “conversation”. His turn might be a look, action or a sound.
I hope these ideas help.