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Teaching Your Child Imitation (The Easy Way)

Speech and language from the perspective of B.F Skinner includes not just phonetics and syntax, but also key operants important to studying and controlling verbal behavior of those around us. These operants include the mand, tact, intraverbal, echoic, textual, transcriptive and motor imitation. Today’s article will look at motor imitation, its importance and some fun ways to incorporate this skill into your child’s repertoire.

So what is motor imitation?

Motor imitation refers to one person following the actions of another person. For example, If you start clapping your hands, probably those in the room will follow suit and start clapping their hands. If someone stomps their feet in front of a young child, the young child will go ahead and also stomp their feet. Motor imitation is a vital skill for young children to develop as children learn through imitation and repetition. Children usually learn from observation followed by imitation. This applies to every aspect of development from facial expressions and speech, gross motor skills such as walking and skipping, fine motor skills such as writing, to even how we treat others. Without the skill of imitation, a child cannot efficiently develop and successfully meet developmental milestones.

Imitatio Example

The importance of the skill of imitation is so highly recognized that early childhood curriculum and literature encourages the full use and development of this skill. As children learn through play and integration, many games have been invented to keep young ones sharp and “on the roll” with their imitation skills.

Below are some suggestions of games and activities you can do with your child to enhance their imitation skills and broaden their repertoire in other areas of their development.

  • Peek-a-boo

This game will have you and your child following each others facial expressions, gestures, and non verbal expressions.

  • For girls – doll house

Young baby girls will engage in tons of imitation during a session of “doll house”. From carrying out breakfast tasks such as pouring tea and mixing cereal to checking on her other dolls when tucking them in to bed at night the very same way you do with her, you will be amazed at how much your girl will imitate all the things you do around the house and within the family with her own little family of dolls!

  • Nursery Rhymes

For the younger ones, nursery rhymes such as “my head, my shoulders, my knees, my toes” is a great way to get an imitation marathon going. You can add new actions to the rhyme as well if you like!

nursery rhymes aba

  • Black history twist to Simon Says

Since we are in black history month, why not teach some black history with imitation by pretending to be Usain Bolt coaching your track stars on the playfield or to be Serena Williams teaching your tennis stars to swing like a pro! This activity is geared toward older kids which still need the integration of this skill along with other lessons such as physical education or science.

This is just a starter list for activities to get young and old children alike practicing imitation. Take time to think of some witty ideas to add to our list and try them out!

Thank you for hanging with us, until next time!

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