It’s a stereotype of movies and books, the mom who won’t stop hounding their kids with questions. And it’s clear to anyone watching that the incessant interrogation is pushing the kids away whether they’re 10, 20 or 30 years old.
We do the same thing. Not to our kids, although maybe that too, but to the little ones in our therapy sessions.
Where? Who? What? Why? When?
We inundate them with questions because we have goals and we need data.
We have an endless stream of directives because, again, we have goals and we need data.
But when we educate parents we ask them to model and expand. Shouldn’t we be demonstrating this in our therapy sessions too?
When we play with little ones, we can provide scripts of sorts that they will attempt to imitate on their own, especially if we seem enthusiastic and like we are having fun. When we work on questions, this might look like asking and answering the question ourselves. Imitation is how we learn language and the natural context makes it much more likely that they will begin to use it in their own play and in wider contexts. Keeping in mind that they may need a lot more repetitions than typically developing children; not necessarily more repetitions themselves but multiple opportunities to hear it modeled for them.
As children get older they will need more specific feedback on their attempts, especially when it comes to articulation, including “that’s not quite it” and “not yet,” but even here modeling speed, tongue position and giving visual/verbal cues goes further than a simple drill.
We need data to monitor progress, but we don’t need to “evaluate” with questions during each session. We can track correct imitations and do occasional informal assessments to meet data collection needs. Teaching needs modeling!
Let me know if you agree or disagree in the comments below!