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Natural Environment Teaching: Incorporating Learning Into Play

Playing with your child provides a natural opportunity to teach them important skills. Play captures your child’s natural motivations and your child will love that you are down on the floor, being silly, and they won’t even realize that they are actually learning too!

Inset Puzzles

If your child loves inset puzzles, this is a great time to practice following directions, discriminating between pictures, labeling, and fine motor skills. When playing with an inset puzzle, set the puzzle in front of your child and give him/her one piece at a time. You can then provide the simple instruction such as “put in” or “match cow.” When your child does as you ask, showing your child you are excited by clapping your hands, providing verbal praise (“Wow! Great job matching!”), giving tickles, etc. are all ways to provide positive reinforcement. You can also label the different puzzle pieces so your child learns to associate the word with the piece.

Blowing bubbles

Blowing bubbles is a perfect opportunity to practice requesting and eye contact. When blowing bubbles, you can wait for your child to look at you before you blow. This reinforces eye contact. You can also wait for your child to request “bubbles.” This opportunity can be provided over and over again because the bubbles naturally disappear. You don’t have to remove the fun activity to practice more eye contact or requesting, you are just the giver of bubbles!

Coloring/ Painting

This is a great way to work on fine motor skills, but it is also a time to work on requesting and labeling colors. When engaging your child in an art activity, you can control access to the crayons, markers, colored pencils, paint, or whatever it is that your child wants to use to create their masterpiece. With you providing one color at a time, your child has to communicate with you the next color they want to use. If you child does not know their colors, you can still practice requesting by presenting two colors, wait for your child to point to the color they want, then label the color as you hand the crayon/ marker/ etc. to your child.

Legos/ Blocks

Maybe your child loves building. Building different structures is a perfect time to practice imitation, pattern recognition, colors, counting, and much more. When working on imitation, you build a simple tower, and then ask your child to build the same tower with the same colors. This is also an easy way to work on pattern recognition by using different colored blocks in a pattern then asking your child what block color goes next. Once you have your tower built, you can count the number of blocks in your tower with your child’s help.

No matter your child’s interest, remember you don’t have to be sitting at a desk to learn! By using your child’s motivation and adding a little structure, you increase the likelihood that your child will engage in the task with you and decrease the likelihood of your child becoming frustrated or bored. If your child wants to do something else, that’s okay! Put your thinking cap on and figure out how you can make the next activity an opportunity for learning!
Written by BCBA, Nicole Herber

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Patient Reviews

LLA Therapy

Patient Reviews

Crystal Scheibe

Great place, glad we found them. Been going to Medina over 2 months now and he loves Lauryn and Kyler. Wish they had more ABA therapy places available... live in Wooster and long drive everyday.

Karrie Swan LaRock

My 11 year old son has dyslexia and has made noticeable gains in working At LLA THERAPY. Katie is strong in her approach toward him and also keeps him comfortable enough to perform well. We will continue visiting both the Fairlawn and Hudson offices and recommend them highly.

Ron Monroe

My 9 year old just completed about 9 months of weekly speech sessions (due to his stuttering) with Matt Hagge at LLA and we are thrilled with the experience and results. What I thought might be a negative (what kid really wants to go to speech class?) was made very positive by Matt, and my son never hesitated or complained when we talked about class. He really enjoyed it and really took what Matt taught him to heart. His speech has been greatly improved and we definitely recommend LLA. Thank you so much!

Heather Dougherty-Pantoja

My son’s Occupational Therapist, Jess, is an amazing OT! She gives practical tips on working with my son at home and school!

Terri Apgar

I cannot say enough good things about LLA Therapy. My daughter was a client of Teal Simmons’ for approximately 2 years and was just released from speech therapy! She was diagnosed with Apraxia in 2015 and worked with Teal twice a week. Through Teal’s application of PROMPT therapy, my daughter had age-appropriate speech after one year. All of the staff we interacted with at LLA were absolutely wonderful. They really care about what they do and making sure your child achieves their goals.

Kelli Geisler Davisson

LLA Therapy has been an excellent experience for my son as well as my family! My son always asks, "When can I go see Ms. Jeannine again, is it Monday??" He has also made huge gains in only 5 months! I would highly recommend LLA and have already shared my experience with friends looking for services!

Victoria Hansford-Price

We are so grateful for our Speech Therapist Ms.Teal. We have seen a great improvement with our sons confidence and communication abilities since we have started "Prompt" therapy. What we love the most about LLA and Ms. Teal is that Kohl feels comfortable and relaxed which has played a critical role in his progress. Thank you Ms. Teal for all you have done.

Laura Lee Hogsett

They have helped in numerous ways. Speech, OT and behavioral. I've had numerous compliments on my son's progress thanks in very large part to LLA. I would recommend LLA before I recommend our local children's hospitals, though they are good, they don't have the staff that LLA does.

Amy Furukawa

We had a great experience with Matt Hagge at LLA! Our Middle School age son was becoming very conscious of his voice, which is nasal due to a cleft palate. Matt helped him to better form his sounds and project his voice in a way that makes the unavoidable nasality less noticeable.Our son is more confident and outgoing & even took on a speaking role in the church play. Matt has the perfect personality to relate with our son, and we would recommend him to anyone needing speech therapy services!

Jessica Havalotti

LLA Therapy has been an excellent experience for our daughter. I would highly recommend LLA. Miss Grace was so amazing and I can't believe how quickly our daughter showed improvement. Thank you!
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