Building Imitation Skills 


Typically, there are eight phases that must occur before your child will talk. These phases center around the importance of targeting the pre-linguistic skill of imitation. It is important to remember that imitation is a core skill that must begin before your child develops linguistic skills.

Phase 1: Imitation of Actions with Objects (e.g., child imitates you stacking blocks)

Phase 2: Imitation of Communication Gestures (e.g., child imitates finger movements while singing “Itsy Bitsy Spider”)

Phase 3: Imitation of Non-verbal Actions with Face/Mouth (e.g., puckering lips to blow a kiss)

Phase 4: Imitation of Vocal Movements (eg., pretending to growl like a dog)

Phase 5: Imitation of Exclamatory Words (e.g., child imitates “wow” or “uh oh”)

Phase 6: Imitation of Words in Context (e.g., child fills in the words to a familiar phrase/verbal routine such as while singing the “Clean up” song) 

Phase 7: Imitation of Single Words 

Phase 8: Imitation of Short Phrases

Teach me to talk: Building verbal imitation in toddlers. Shelbyville, KY:

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