Imitation involves a child’s ability to copy others; such as body movements (stamping feet, clapping hands), actions with objects (such as building blocks, pushing a car or banging on a drum), gestures and body movements (such as clapping hands or waving) or sounds or words. Children must have good imitation skills to learn any new skill such as play, social interaction, self-help or language development. Children learning to imitate interact with the person they are copying; this can help them discover new ways to interact with other people.
In school we practice lots of different imitation skills with all our students; gross motor imitation, play imitation and vocal imitation to name a few. When teaching students to imitate, the teacher models an action and asks the child to “Do this” while helping them to copy the action.
When they copy the action we reinforce them with something they like.
When children have good imitation skills we can use them to teach other skills such as completing self-help tasks.
For example: Washing hands a teacher can say “Do this” and model putting soap on hands and rubbing hands together.
A child with good imitation skills will copy putting soap on hands and rub their hands together.
Imitation skills are easy to practice at home and can be made into fun activities.
Use opportunities throughout the day to ask your child to copy your actions.
· Make activities as fun as possible.
· Use your child’s interests.
· If you are not copying something on telly try to face your child.
· Gain your child’s attention before you ask them to copy you- this makes it easier for your child to copy you.
· Help your child if they need it, hand over hand to copy your action.
· Reduce help when possible.
· Give child lots of praise for copying you.
· Provide lots of opportunities to practice imitation skills.
Check out the videos below which demonstrate imitation: