When working with kids and their parents for the first time, I always ensure they understand one simple fact before starting therapy— There is no point in your child being able to talk or use skills with me. Your child needs to learn how to use words and use new skills within their everyday environment. The only way to ensure this happens is to up-skill the people around your child, especially those who spend extended time with your child regularly.
So how do you get the immediate and extended family members on board with teaching your child?
This really does depend on the family dynamics and whether the person understands and believes that your child will benefit from explicit teaching. If you know your child needs teaching, it’s easy to get them to learn and implement strategies. In contrast, it’s a bit more challenging to get those on board who are unaware.
Here are a few ways you can encourage family members to help:
Educate and inform about the importance of early intervention, based on beliefs and values they already have
Sometimes merely sharing an article or blog post you have found can help. Other times, you may need to relate the importance of early intervention to something they understand or believe in. For example, many understand and value the importance of learning to read and write. So you could share information about how talking/early language and speech sound acquisition directly affects future literacy attainment. E.g. your child must hear and use sounds through early talking to store accurate sounds in their minds, enabling them to become “in tune” with sounds for later literacy attainment.
For some more information about early intervention – click here
Ask the family member to record how often your child either uses the communication/speech goal OR makes an error.
Asking a family member to keep track of your communication goal or speech error can help that person realise your child’s difficulties without having to be “told” by you. They can come to the realisation themselves and have ownership over it. They then might start doing some trial and error to “teach” your child and then be more open to talking about it with you.
Plan a task that the family member can do with your child that ‘naturally’ focuses on your communication or speech goal.
Perhaps a family member is babysitting your child, and the word you and your child are focusing on is ‘put’. Beforehand, get your child super excited to play a specific game with ‘said family member’ (e.g. pirate pop up, specific puzzle, dressing dolly). While they play with the family member, they may incidentally model the focus word ‘put’ without being told to do so.
Kobe, mum and grandma
I hope that you’ve seen some of Kobe’s videos lately on Instagram! Kobe’s mum is super busy, works part-time and has number 2 on the way. Lucky for her, she has Kobe’s grandparents to rely on, who look after him weekly. So I get to teach mum strategies and his grandparents, allowing many opportunities for Kobe to practice his target words within a specific daily routine and play-based activities. His grandma likes to incorporate teaching through mealtimes and when they cook together. ♡
This most certainly takes the pressure off mum!
So make sure you utilise the people you have around you. Think grandparents, babysitters, and extended family. You can’t do it all!
If you don’t have access to extended family, please don’t worry. Take the pressure off yourself, embedding teaching in daily routines such as bath time, bed/story-time, snack and getting dressed.
Thank you to the one that sent in this question about involving family members. It’s super reassuring for me to know that parents realise the importance of up-skilling and generalising skills to home ☺︎