1..2……..3! How small routines can lead to BIG communication

by Adina Levy

One of the strategies that I share with families often is using ‘verbal routines’ with kids – this is things like “ready, set, GO!”. My personal favourite. But another super simple verbal routine is ‘1…2………..3!’

How to use it with your child

1️⃣ Try to find a way to do the ‘1…2………3’ routine in all different activities! Find what your child loves, and start by adding ‘1, 2, 3!’ and the doing something fun on ‘3’

2️⃣ When your child gets into the activity after a few turns, then start to pause between ‘2’ and ‘3’ to give them a chance to join in and communicate with you

3️⃣ Wait for your child to communicate ANYTHING to you (but don’t wait too long, it’s most important to keep the game going). Your child might reach for something, make a sound, say a word, look at you quickly or show you in some other way that they want you to continue. As soon as they communicate with you in ANY way, say “three!” and continue the game!

4️⃣ If your child doesn’t indicate that they want you to keep going, KEEP GOING ANYWAY! Remember to keep the game fun, that’s always the first priority!

Some activities to use ‘1…2………3’ in

  • Rolling a ball down a ramp (Hold it just above the ramp until you say ‘three!’)
  • On the swing – hold your child in the air facing you and let go when you say ‘three!’
  • Crash a toy car into a tower on three!
  • Remember to follow your child’s interests and try to build ‘1…2………3’ into that!

Want more ideas for helping your child communicate? The Hanen More Than Words program teaches you in-depth information about how you can help your child build communication skills through play!


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