Updated: Jul 18, 2020
We all know that children love to copy grown ups.
Children copy us because this is how they learn.
I want to tell you about a technique that takes advantage of this copying instinct to help your child learn more and learn better.
Modelling good speaking behaviour
Modelling is sort of like showing your child how to do something but without actually saying “This is how you do it”. Modelling desired behaviour means consistently behaving in the way you want your child to behave.
A parent who always washes their hands before eating is modelling good hygiene practices to their child. A parent who eats chocolate bars every day is not modelling healthy eating habits very well.
Teachers model behaviours that they want children to copy all the time.
Have you ever noticed that teachers write in beautifully neat handwriting when marking children’s books? Or that they eat apples for their snack in front of children?
This is because they know the influence that their behaviour can have over our little ones.
Modelling can be a really useful technique for parents of home learners too and can help to improve your child’s speaking skills.
Let’s see how it works.
Maybe your child has just said a word incorrectly or mixed up the words in a sentence.
You could frown and point out their mistake. Or you could smile and nod, showing that you understand and you are pleased to hear what your child has to say, and gently say the word or sentence back to your child correctly. You could say a word back in a sentence of your own like in the example below.
Child: I saw emiphents! Mum: Wow, yes that’s amazing, you saw elephants!
With this response, you show your child the correct way to say the word without any need to highlight their error and make them feel bad.
If this Mum had said “That’s not how you say ‘elephants’, I’ve told you so many times!” then the child probably wouldn’t feel like carrying on the conversation. And if a child doesn’t speak at all then how can they practise their speaking?
But with the positive, constructive response the child will probably happily keep on talking, developing those speech skills as they chat.
Promoting speaking skills at home
Good speech development will occur through meaningful conversations with a proficient speaker (that’s you!).
A child doesn’t learn anything if they are told what to say or asked to name things. More importantly, this will discourage your child and even make him or her feel sad.
Modelling good speaking at home every day will not only benefit your child’s speaking skills but your child’s self-esteem will not suffer. Taking part in the discussion of different things that interest them will help children to learn more about their world. The social skills needed for discussion are important for success and happiness later on in adult life.
I would be happy to answer questions - publicly or privately - relating to supporting the development of speech in children. To contact me just send me an email.