You may have heard of Natural Teaching Strategies (NTS) in reference to exercises you can do with your child at home. I use them during sessions and often share them as a resource with parents looking to continue working on communication skills at home. They’re easy to integrate into your child’s routine and encourage growth within their natural, least restrictive environment.
Today we’ll be discussing five strategies that you can use at home: forget, novelty, visible but unreachable, piece by piece, and delay. NTS requires you as the parent to be a bit proactive when using, whether that’s preparing the environment or being aware of a situation where it would be useful to employ a strategy.
The examples shared for each strategy are just that! If you feel like your child reacts better to different items or activities, use those. The beauty of NTS is that it allows for creativity and flexibility. Don’t force yourself to be overly analytical when using NTS, you want the experience to be natural and engaging for your child.
Forget: The first strategy is to ‘forget’ something. Whether that’s overlooking part of a routine or forgetting materials, pretend to forget something that you know your child will notice. The goal is to get them to recognize that something is missing and then use language to fix the situation.
Use a predictable activity for your child to easily recognize the opportunity to communicate with you. For example, acknowledge that it’s time for a snack but then set a bowl or plate in front of your child, ‘forgetting’ the actual snack.
Novelty: Using new toys can spark interest and aid with changes in routine. During sessions, I love using popper toys like this corgi to engage a child and get them interested in language activity. It was exciting when a child I worked with used an approximation for “dog” for the first time to indicate he wanted more of this exciting toy!
Visible but Unreachable: This can be a frustrating NTS for children, but when used in the right setting, it is an effective way to encourage communication. Place several objects within your child’s eyesight, but have them just out of reach. They’re encouraged to communicate with you about what they want instead of being able to pick the items up themselves. For highly preferred items, put them on the counter, in view, so that your child has to ask for help, label the item or request for “more” to get it.
With my early intervention families, I like to encourage caregivers to put items in containers so that children have to request to “open” the containers as well.
Piece by Piece: When a toy or activity has multiple parts, give your child one or a few pieces at a time and allow them to talk about the activity or the items themselves. For example, when playing with a puzzle, I give the child one piece and withhold the rest. Then I model or prompt for the use of “more” or the label of the item (i.e., fish, dog, truck). This encourages active communication during play!
Delays: A delay provides a chance for your child to tell you that they want the activity to continue. This is a great way to teach children to initiation a request. During an everyday routine like getting dressed or putting on socks and shoes, stop what you’re doing and see if your child says anything to you.
Natural Teaching Strategies can be effective tools for parents and caregivers to use in the home environment. It’s all about setting up your space for communication in a natural, easy way. Interested in learning more about how to integrate NTS? Reach out to schedule a consultation.
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Sol Speech & Language Therapy
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Round Rock, TX 78681
Sol Speech & Language Therapy offers personalized skilled intervention to those struggling with their speech and language skills. Services offered include screening, consultation, and comprehensive evaluation. We also provide one-on-one and/or group therapy for speech sound disorders, receptive/expressive language delay/disorder, stuttering/cluttering, accent reduction, and much more.