Important tips for using gestures with your child
Things to remember when using gestures
Simplify what you say so that your message is clear to your child.
Instead of “Get a wriggle on and hop to the door!” Try:
- “Put your shoes on (point to child’s shoes).
- Great! Now go to the door (point to the door).
ALWAYS speak at the same time as using gesture (your goal is not to replace language but make it easier for your child to understand what you have said).
The more a child sees gesture, the more they’ll use gesture.
Encouraging Your Child to Use Gestures
If your child doesn’t use many gestures, you can help communication by encouraging him/her to use gestures. For example, when people, pets or toys are in the room, wave hello and goodbye to them. Say “Hello daddy” or “Hello teddy” as you wave. Wait to see if your child imitates you. If not, wave his/her hand and say “Hello teddy” again.
Examples of common gestures
POINTING at objects
When talking about new/favourite objects/people, e.g. Look at teddy
When asking for objects, e.g. give me the keys.
Wave your arm away from you to indicate ‘go’ and bring it towards you to say, ‘come here’.
Nodding or shaking your head.
Shrug your shoulders and hold your arms out to the side.
Point to your mouth when you talk about eating. Pretend to drink from a cup to say “drink”.
Such as duck - keep your fingers straight and open and close them like a duck.
The bubble wand is an object that indicates what they are playing. The father also made a blowing gesture and waited for his son to respond.
Making it visual made it more concrete and meaningful. It also gave non-verbal clues for the child to understand what is happening and how to respond.
Caregiver Self Reflection
- What visual helpers do you use at home with your child?
- When you use a visual helper with your child how did you know that they understood the word or sign?
- What gestures or signs have you observed your child using?
- Does your child show you objects or pictures when they are communicating with you?