LSL Strategies

When you keep things surprising or unexpected you're using the Keep Them On Their Toes strategy.

Use this strategy during daily routines, at playtime, or while sharing a story. It's a little bit of trickery and a lot of exaggeration but it's all for language learning.

Initiate a surprise within a routine so your child can practice requesting and questioning, vocabulary, problem solving, and using spoken language. Wait for your child to notice the unexpected and see what conversation follows.

What It Looks Like

Clothing Routine

Let your child help pick their clothes for the next day. Together, lay out a shirt, shorts, shoes, socks, etc. When your child isn't looking, make a change. In the morning, they'll find mom's pants instead of theirs! Or only one shoe but three socks. See what they say.

Meal Routine

Set your child's place and leave out something important for that meal, like a fork. Serve the meal and wait for them to ask for it. Or give them an extra large spoon and see what happens.

Reading Routine

Select a book that is very familiar to your child with phrases that they know well. While reading aloud, make a mistake. "The caterpillar ate through one apple but he was still THIRSTY." What happens when your child realizes you said the wrong word?

Icon for Keep Them on Their Toes LSL Strategy

When you shake up a routine, do they notice? What's their reaction? What language happened in the process? When you Keep Them on Their Toes, you're helping your child develop their thinking and spoken language skills to stimulate their independent learning.

Take It Further

You can use this strategy when sharing experiences or telling a story to your child.

  • Exaggerate and animate your story. "Oh, you won't believe a story I heard about! It was crazy and there was a big surprise."
  • Pause and wait for them to ask, "What? What happened?"
  • Add lots of details and clues. "Well, an animal that lives outside got in someone's house! It had a big bushy tail. It likes to run up trees and gather lots of nuts. He got in the attic! Do you know what animal that was?"
  • Wait for your child to guess, "Was it a squirrel?"
  • Continue the story and keep adding moments of suspense. "Yes, a squirrel got in the attic and caused big problems."
  • Pause and wait for your child to ask, "What kind of problems?"
  • Continue and finish your story, repeating these steps.

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