Let’s set the scene. You’ve tried to teach your child to put their dishes in the sink and they are not moving from doing it with physical help to independence. It can be easy to ponder the ways in which you’ve offered time to train your child how to do a skill. What can be more difficult, is looking at the ways in which you learn skills and transferring how you learned, over to your child.
Imitation is often an important part of learning. In school, children typically learn in group environments. Imitation is used vastly in the classroom to enhance daily routine skills and self help skills. Imitation is also learned in the home from children either by seeing their parents do something or imitating a sibling.
Imitating is a very powerful way to learn but it is sometimes overlooked in the aspect of teaching a skill. Imitation leads to verbal, self-help, motor social, and responding skills. Some may call it the foundation of learning.
So how can you teach imitation? Here are some steps below to help teach your child the basics of imitation if it does not come naturally to them.
- Start with basic gross motor skills or vocal skills that you’ve seen or heard the child possibly do spontaneously already.
- Provide the instruction “Do this” or “Copy me”. Emit the skill and then have the child do it in return.
- If they do not respond with the action, give them physical help. Repeat the above step several times until the child is able to do the action on their own.
- Once the child is repeating basic motor skills, you can begin to work on more complex 3 or 4 step activities.
- Make learning fun! Do it in an enjoyable way that has you and your child laughing. Use songs or games to create a more inviting setting.
- Have others provide imitation instructions to your child to make sure they are able to do the skill in a variety of ways.
Incorporating these steps will not only help your child with basic activities, but will also allow them to work in other settings with other adults and children alike.