How to improve your child’s desire to interact with you and to use language


Row-Row-Row Your Boat

Thank you to my Katie and my Gregory for demonstrating this simple activity….I hope based upon the picture you can understand what I am trying to describe.  As you can see Katie and Gregory have their hands extended…they are holding hands and Gregory has his feet in-between Katie’s legs.

Now as they rock back and forth….we sing the Row-Row-Row Your Boat song…..this very simple play activity….I have found is motivating for the little ones I have worked with over the years…….and when I am working with a little one who may not show the desire to be social, to interact….and may seem limited in her ability to know how to be social (even if it is non-verbal)…this activity seems to motivate her to be social….to try and be social…even if it is on a non-verbal level. 

I have engaged in this activity placing absolutely NO language demands upon the little one…just simply pairing myself with this activity….so that she wants to interact with me…even on a non-verbal level…..she wants to hold my hands…she wants to be close to me…she wants me to rock back and forth…she even is making some eye contact with me…I saw a smile maybe….and she is desiring to be social…to interact…non-verbally…but she is telling me…even without words…that she enjoys the activity.  So I have simply just paired myself with something she enjoys.  Now with a child that is non-verbal…and a little one that presents with some difficulty with regard to her social language/pragmatic language….I will call this play activity “BOAT”……and everytime I sit down with her….I will say the word “BOAT”…..before we start rocking back and forth…and before I start singing the song….the goal is for her one day to be able to come up to me….and on a functional and spontaneous level….she will say the word BOAT…..indicating to me that she wants to engage in the simple play activity.

When I am working with a little one….and just addressing use of language…meaning…she does present as a social child….she does desire to interact with me….I just need to elicit language….I too can use this activity to stimulate expressive language development….HOW????……when singing the song…..and after she has heard the song many times…..when you find she may be ready to FILL IN THE BLANKS…..start something like this when singing:

“Row row row your__________” (did she fill in the blank with BOAT)

“Gently down the___________”(did she fill in the blank with STREAM)

And continue to sing the song…leaving off words in the song….and seeing if she is able to fill in the blank with the missing word.  I also will stop rowing…and singing mid song….can she or will she ask for MORE…..does she make any verbalization indicating that she wants you to continue.

I hope this was helpful….what is best…you can engage in this fun activity without having to purchase anything at all.

Have fun!

About Kim

My name is Kim Marino and I have been practicing as a licensed speech and language pathologist since 1993. I work on Long Island providing diagnostic evaluations and services to children from birth to age 21. My experience is vast and am proud to say that I work with children that may present with articulation and phonological concerns, oral motor feeding concerns, Down Syndrome feeding, cognitive rehabilitation, auditory processing delays, receptive language delays, cleft palate feeding and sound development and expressive language delays. Most importantly, I am the mother of four amazing children and am happily married to my childhood sweetheart. I feel blessed to have my four children and so lucky to share this journey in life with my husband. I always had it somewhere in my head that I wanted to develop a blog or a website of some sort so that I could provide families with an additional that parents could help their little ones become a better communicator. And as I was developing this blog....I realized that I also needed to share the stories about my life and my children....and the funny things along the way that help to keep me smiling. Whether you are a working mother or not...finding balance between home, children and life can be a challenge....I hope that my blog helps to bring a smile to your face..and also some tools to help you help your little or big one. I hope you enjoy! Kim
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3 Responses to How to improve your child’s desire to interact with you and to use language

  1. Caroline says:

    Hi! The iMums introduced me to you website. I have two sons on the autism spectrum. I don’t know how I’ve missed your site before, but I’m marking it now!

    • Kim says:

      Hi Caroline. I’m so glad you found my site Post a question at any time. I’m here to help. Best, Kim.

  2. Kim says:

    have you had a chance to read the strategies under teach me to talk?

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