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Early Steps - Saying A New Word For The First Time.

A Super Fun Start For Week One.

Last Friday we met our little learners for the first-time and after settling them into a new place, we shared lots of different activities to help get them communicating.

The children settled in quickly and were straight into the course, and one of their favourite activities was the very popular parachute game – where the children had lots of fun asking for “up” and “down”. They also loved playing outside and our play foam activities – they were a big hit!

Teaching Stop and Go

Whilst working outside with one of the children, having fun on the climbing frame, a boy used the word “stop” for the first time!

Why were we so excited about this and how did we teach it?!?

When choosing words to teach, we look at a child’s interests in that moment. So, if a child wants a drink, they are more likely to say “drink” than if they have just had a drink. This means we must watch what a child is interested in and follow their lead. By doing this we are creating the motivation to speak/ communicate which would be much more difficult if we had decided upon arbitrary targets based on what we ‘think’ he might like.

In this case, our student was crossing a bridge on our climbing frame. Michelle and his mum created a game for him where their arms acted as a gate. He could ask for them to open and close the gate by asking “go” and “stop”.

And, because this activity was so much fun, there were plenty of opportunities for him to ask again and again, which enabled them to fade prompts and cues until he was asking independently.

This activity is also a fun way to teach assertiveness, which can then be generalised into other situations.

We All Learn Better When We’re Not Upset!

Teaching children in a fun way to ask for things to stop happening (as well as teaching them to ask for toys and activities) is our first step towards a child being able to assert themselves and self-advocate. We can then start to teach a child to use these words with peers and can replace problem behaviour - this is called Functional Communication Training.

For example, during a typical toddler group Joey is playing with the baby buggy. Max comes up and takes the buggy away from them. Joey then pushes Max in order to take back the toy they were playing with. A much more appropriate response would be for Joey to say, “I was playing with that!” By teaching skills like this away from a trigger situation or by setting up these triggers in a more playful way, we can maximise our teaching opportunities when a child is not upset. We all learn better when we’re not upset!

Looking forward to this week's fun session. If you would like further information about any of these techniques, please get in touch at: or call 07824 366802.

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