Follow the child's lead (using your own theory of mind)
This is information on how to interact with young kids to support their development of language and communication skills. The first thing to work on is reinforcing the things the child is already doing to communicate, finding ways to help them do that more often, in a broader range of settings and activities. Playing with kids is the best way to see what they are truly interested in. Structured classroom activities are important for providing systematically organized language models or examples, but they aren't a good format for kids to work on expanding the complexity or variety of their own self-formulated utterances.
Practice identifying kid's skills by playing with them without trying to get them to do anything. Here are some steps to get there ( from the Hanen Program):
- Watch- what is the child actually interested in, focused on, wanting to do, trying to tell you
- Wait.- be nearby, face to face,
- Listen- listen for the whole message
- Join in & play
"Joining in" looks very different for different kids or groups of kids, but it always means that you build on the child's focus without dominating the play.
- for a discoverer, imitate an action
- for a communicator play next to them, copy what they do, join in with them if it works
- for the kids who are talking more, add ideas and comments without making suggestions. That means you play without telling them how to play. You don't have to just copy what they do. You can play different ways & see if they follow. Match the language level of the child you're playing with. Make your utterances no more than one word longer than the child's typical utterance.