Top 5 ways to encourage Anticipation skills

Last week I promised to get a collection of the games Lexi and I play together to help her ‘anticipation skills’ (Anticipation = expecting that something is going to happen).

Here is a clip we took a while ago which I think shows you what anticipation looks like. The first time James lifts Lexi to the light she reacts just as the beads hit her head. The second time she goes up  she shows she is expecting something to happen as she scrunches up her shoulders before she reaches the beads, in other words she has ‘anticipated’ the feeling of the beads on her head.

When we play anticipation games we play them again and again. As I’ve been thinking about it more this week I’ve realised each game has a mini routine which helps Lexi recognise and remember something is about to happen. In the clip above James said ‘ready…steady..’ to help build the action into a mini routine. (I love ready steady go games! and I use them a lot to help Lexi tell me when she wants something to start – buts that’s another post!)

We have had a fun week playing and this is what we came up with:

  1. Movement

This first video above is already an example of using movement in anticipation. Lexi can’t see when she is about to touch so she is relying on her sense of movement (instead of her sense of sight) to know that she is about to feel the beads.

When we were waiting to go into one of our local groups last week I used the ramp up to the door to play with Lexi. My silly voice and pausing helps her get excited.

Lexi loves the mirror so I hold her in a flying pose and then woosh her towards the mirror. By pausing when she is away from the mirror she begins to anticipate that I am about to move her and she gets excited. I am going to make the most of this game before she gets too heavy to lift!

  1. Anticipating a tickle

We have been tickling Lexi from the word go to hopefully catch a smile 🙂 (poor child!) to help her anticipate the tickle I usually pull a silly face and wiggle my fingers before slowly coming towards her.

  1. Song/noise Anticipation

Build a tickle into any song and you’ve got the perfect combination to teach children to anticipate. There are loads of good nursery songs that we sing at home and in our music groups which have a simple structure before a tickle like ’round and round the garden’ and ‘this little piggy’  I’ve found the best way to help Lexi anticipate the tickle part of the song is to slow right down and even pause just before the tickle.  I pull the most ridiculous face to help her too.

There are loads of other songs that build up to a fun action such as ‘row row row your boat’ and ‘down down in the deep blue sea’. My sister is the best at making up short songs to sing over and over again with Lexi. My favourite was ‘let’s go Lexi-Lou, let’s try something new! Back stroke, back stroke, back stroke’. On the word ‘back stroke’ Sian would move Lexi’s arms and Lexi began to anticipate this movement.

Most days we have a visitor so each time someone knocks on the door and walks in I encourage Lexi to listen. She will now look to the door and look forward to someone walking in when she hears the door and footsteps. This is also brilliant for her listening skills (essential for developing sounds to use in words).

  1. Hide and seek

Seeing Lexi anticipating in a game of peek a boo is fun. This was one of the first times I really felt like we were doing some classic ‘playing’. I hide behind my husband’s head and play peek a boo with Lexi. She starts to work out which side I will appears and looks that way. Once she has got the routine I tease her and start to pop out of the side she is not anticipating.

  1. Every day routine’s anticipation

Lexi and I are attempting to do baby led weaning but there are times when we are in a rush that I abandon this and spoon feed Lexi. I can see when Lexi is anticipating her food because she starts to open her mouth before the food goes in.

Because of the repetitive nature I often use bedtime to try and teach Lexi to anticipating what is happening next . Lexi is an awful sleeper so we have a fairly long bed time routine to help her wind down. When she was teeny tiny I would help her know it was bath time by giving her a dry sponge to play with and when she got undressed we would plant the sponge all over her so she could feel it and link it to the bath.  Now I am bathing her by myself I am often juggling her and getting the bath to the right temperature. The cue for bath time has changed because of this and she now recognises the sound of the water running as her cue that it is bath time.


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