A Baby’s Language Development: Motor Imitation

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One of the most important early steps in [language and] speech development is to copy or imitate movements.

Helping your child learn to imitate movements will improve eye contact and interaction. Set aside one or two periods a day to focus on movement imitation. Establish a time and place that eliminates distracting noises and reduces visual distractions. No specific time period is recommended. You know your child best. Remember these sessions should be enjoyable for you and your child.

To begin, sit at your child’s eye level in a face to face position. This will assist eye contact and help direct attention. Children may be in a high chair during these play sessions to focus attention and reduce the tendency to roam the house. The following activities are perfect for beginning to learn to imitate.

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Make a box of functional objects that can be used for imitation. Your box may include: cups, blocks, cars, spoons, balls, hats, small boxes to open and close, toy hammer, toy vehicles, etc.

There is no specific number of skills that your child must learn. The above activities are suggestions. Use your imagination!

The above article was written by Linda Mawhinney & Mary Scott McTeague, which can be found in their book, Early Language Development. You can find their book online.

For a helpful chart that outlines imitation and child development, visit http://www.cde.ca.gov/sp/cd/re/itf09cogdevfdimit.asp from the California Department of Education.

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