During early childhood development, the minds of young children are like sponges that are constantly absorbing new information. As a result, the first years of life are particularly important in early childhood development. When children are acquiring new skills, the goal is that they will learn to generalize these skills.
What does it mean to generalize skills?
When a child is learning a skill, they may learn it at home or at school, and generalization means that they will be able to carry this skill over to another environment. If a child is working on expressive language with a speech-language pathologist (SLP) in their therapeutic preschool program, the goal is that they will be able to generalize this skill to all other settings. For example, if a child is able to verbally express their feelings in their therapeutic preschool program, they should also be able to express their feelings at home, in the community, etc.
How can a therapeutic preschool program help with generalization?
One of the best ways to teach children to generalize skills in a therapeutic preschool program is to use many different examples. It is a numbers game!
Why is this skill important?
Generalization is extremely important in order for children gain important developmental skills. In order for children to apply the skills they practice in their therapeutic preschool program, it is necessary for them to be able to generalize the skills.
Generalization and autism spectrum disorder (ASD)
Every child has a unique learning style and manner of processing information. If a child has autism or other developmental delays, they might struggle with generalization. Children on the spectrum often have difficulty applying skills that they learn to a new context. In these instances, parents and teachers should provide additional support for the child by practicing the skill in different settings and situations. In a therapeutic preschool program, teachers might repeatedly practice a skill with a child across multiple days to encourage them to generalize this skill.
It can also be helpful for full family involvement in generalization. This way, multiple family members can help the child to practice the desired skill. For children enrolled in a therapeutic preschool program, multiple teachers and therapists can also become involved in teaching a skill. The child will also benefit from parents and the team of professionals communicating throughout the therapeutic process, as this will reinforce consistency with strategies.
Are you interested in learning more about generalization or therapeutic preschool programs in Chicago? Contact CST Academy at 773-620-7800 or click the purple button below to learn more about our pediatric services, including ABA therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy, and feeding therapy.