If you're familiar with how children behave, you know that they are keen observers. Younger children learn the majority of what they know from observing others.
As their cute little eyes are fixated on you, their brains are quickly recording all your actions for future reference. This is why they can easily be trained via modeling.
When you consider all its features, it's clear modeling is crucial to train your child’s receptiveness and overall communication. But what really is it? And how can it be applied as a part of speech therapy?
What Is Modeling in Speech Therapy?
Modeling is one of the most effective speech therapy strategies for building receptive language in young children. It's when a caregiver or therapist performs an action while verbalizing the sequence simultaneously. For instance, the caregiver may say, “I am kicking a ball” while performing the action.
The truth is modeling is only effective when you can effectively connect with the child. You must show the action before the child can replicate it. Your youngster should be able to see your face throughout the entire process. It's crucial to ensure they can see your mouth clearly. The child’s positioning is the most important factor here.
As part of the effort to build a connection with the child, ensure they stare at your mouth. It's a good idea to model the sound slowly to allow the child to study your mouth’s movements and learn proper pronunciation.
You may also encourage your child to imitate the sounds in your statement. Before pressuring your child to imitate your sound or action, remember that you'll be deviating from the main goal of modeling.
This aspect of speech therapy is only concerned with showing young children how to communicate effectively from an early age. Many parents aren't familiar with modeling. As a result, you'll find many of them instructing their wards on what and what not to say. More often than not, this strategy yields no results because it's a forced approach. It may even strain the parent-child connection.
Instead of giving out instructions, you're meant to use your language and vocabulary system to model the expressive language you want in your child. You're supposed to familiarize your child with certain words as they grow. After some time, they will learn to say these words instantaneously.
The unique thing about modeling is it allows you to develop any aspect of speech or language. You can use it to teach your ward how to speak clearly and slowly. If you want your child to learn more 4-letter words, it's up to you to model 4-word utterances.
If you also don't like how your child expresses emotions, model positive coping techniques. The key to effective modeling is keeping in mind that you're teaching your child to communicate.
Over the long run, modeling will create a language-rich atmosphere for your child to develop their communication. Watch your child outshine his peers on the playground with a superior vocabulary.
Modeling for Different Age Groups
Are you wondering when to start speech therapy for your youngster? Most parents would do well to note that modeling can be introduced at any aspect of a child's development.
What's really important is for you to determine the language you wish to model and how you wish to do it. However, every child is different. While some children can quickly go through several modeling stages, others may need more time to do the same.
Study your child and opt for a strategy that works. Always be ready to increase the complexity of your models as the child's cognitive capacity improves.
Example of Modeling in Speech Therapy
Modeling may sound like a new concept, but it isn't. In fact, many parents have a mild grasp of it. However, they may be unaware their actions have a deeper meaning. Here are the most common examples of modeling in speech therapy:
Recasting: This concept involves building your child's vocabulary by repeating what they say with additional details or with correct grammar. For instance, your child may say, “Daddy go”. Simply respond with whatever's more appropriate: “Yes, Daddy went to work.” It's an immersive process for parents and children, and they must pay close attention to each other for it to work.
Self-talk: Self-talk involves narrating your actions with correct expressive language. To provide a comprehensive language system, parents are advised to narrate their actions to their kids. By doing this, your child will quickly develop labels for common actions they've witnessed or objects in their environment. They will also understand different sentence structures and functional language to use when upset. For example, you may describe your actions while serving dinner: “I'm serving a bowl of your favorite stir-fry spaghetti.” Another good idea is to verbalize your feelings in tense moments: “I lost my keys. I feel so disappointed. I'm going to relax to try to recollect where I kept them.”
Parallel-talk: Parallel-talk is somewhat of an inverse of self-talk. It involves narrating the child’s actions. For instance: “You're eating a bunch of bananas. That's yummy!”
Forced stimulation: This form of modeling has a structured approach. All you have to do is provide different models of certain words you'd love your child to learn. You'll need to repeat the word severally and even use it in different meaningful contexts.
How to Model a Child as Part of Speech Therapy?
Yes, modeling is an effective way to build your child's vocabulary and language system. But how can you practice it? Take a look at the following steps.
Start early: It's a common mistake to wait until your child is older to start modeling. However, the best time to start is when the child starts to speak. You'll need to closely monitor your child's development to spot when this happens. Within the first few months after their birth, children cry to express their emotions. After some time, they begin to develop new gestures, such as stretching out an open palm or pointing at objects. There are even toddlers adept at using gestures at focalization to get their message across. The next stage is to pronounce the first words, and this will typically happen around the child's first birthday.
Start small: Modeling is somewhat overwhelming because it's an immersive process that continues till the child is fully developed. However, there are ways to break things down. It's important to always model in stages. If your child has only started speaking, you can use single-word models to show them what to say. Avoid starting with complex models if your child is yet to grasp the simpler ones.
Don't ask your child to repeat after you: Modeling isn't a coercive system where you ask your child to repeat after you. While it's tempting to ask your kid to repeat what you've said, it may only contribute to frustrating them. If you start modeling early enough, your child will be used to your techniques, and your speech therapy relationship will be instantaneous. Ensure your child can see and hear your modeling. After some time, you'll notice the differences.
Increase the complexity of your models: Never forget that modeling is an extensive process that encompasses your child's entire developmental stages till they can learn to process language systems themselves. This means you'll need to improve the complexity of your models as the child grows. If your child has mastered 2-word utterances, you can move on to 3-word models and so on.
Learn how to get your child’s attention: Before modeling, it's essential to choose a time of day when your child can watch you closely. If you don't have your child’s attention, your modeling will be relatively ineffective. To help your child maintain a long attention span, ensure all your actions are performed at his or her eye level.
Remember to model requests too: It's possible that you focus on other vocabulary and forget to model your child on making requests. Modeling requests are different from normal language systems. You'll need to identify an ideal opportunity to talk. If you find your youngster reaching for a glass of juice, you can simply mouth: “Juice, please.” When they are able to imitate this phrase, you can modify a longer phrase: “Please I want apple juice.”
Repeat difficult phrases: Once in a while, your child may encounter certain phrases that they'll struggle to imitate. When this happens, the key is to not give up. Repetition is the ideal way to help kids master tough models. You may introduce rewards to encourage children to perform better. Think of how to model your child with speech therapy at any time, even when they're playing.
Never repeat your child's mistakes: In a bid to create a playful atmosphere, many parents repeat their children's modeling mistakes. What they don't know is that these thoughtless repetitions may do more harm than good. When you repeat your child's mistakes, it may confuse them and lengthen the learning curve. Instead, take your time to help them identify the correct things to say.
Be dynamic if your child is struggling: It's not uncommon to find children who struggle to grasp your models. While this should be a reason for concern, there's no need to panic. If you've repeated certain models and the child has failed to grasp it, switch things up a bit. Sticking to the same approach will frustrate your kids and fail to get the desired result. Use another set of models to reinforce previous lessons.
Direct Vs. Indirect Modeling Speech Therapy
By now, we've established the importance of modeling speech therapy and extensively discussed how to practice it. Now, let's distinguish between the major types of modeling available to parents. They are direct and indirect modeling speech therapy. While both have a similar underlying approach, the techniques used to apply these concepts are different.
What Is Direct Modeling Speech Therapy?
Direct modeling speech therapy involves hiring an expert to model your child. Most times, parents may hire a speech therapist to work closely with their child. This professional will be responsible for taking the child through the different developmental stages. He will also have to figure out the best way to engage your child.
Direct modeling may be relatively costly because you'll have to hire a professional to engage your child, and this training may extend over a long period. Gradually, small fees will accumulate. However, the fee structure will vary based on the expert in question.
What Is Indirect Modeling Speech Therapy?
Indirect modeling speech therapy involves training those around the child with the necessary skills to train the youngster. People around the child, such as parents and siblings, will be responsible for modeling without any direct contribution from a therapist.
Indirect modeling may be cheaper than the direct method. More often than not, wards will pay once for this training. However, it's an immersive approach that involves everyone at home. For optimal effectiveness, every family member is expected to contribute to the therapy.
Why Is Modeling Important in Speech Therapy?
There's a common misconception that modeling speech therapy is meant for children with speech difficulties caused by health conditions like dyslexia. However, this isn't the case. While children are capable of learning language systems and vocabulary through other means, modeling shows them how to do it firsthand. As a result, modeling lessons have a more profound and lasting effect.
By adopting modeling speech therapy, parents can boost the lessons their children learn at school. They will grasp English language concepts easily because of the foundation laid by their parents. Overall, children with foundation lessons in speech therapy modeling display better expressive language and communication skills. They will stand out because of the additional effort put in behind the scenes.
No doubt, the best way to teach a child something is by showing them how to do it. And that's the major concept behind modeling in speech therapy. Modeling allows parents to show their children how to pronounce certain words and use specific language systems. Read this piece for a comprehensive guide on how to use modeling as part of speech therapy.