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4 ways you can promote gesture development in children through paediatric speech pathology

Gesture development is an important part of early childhood development and is closely connected to language development, which is why it is heavily emphasised in paediatric speech pathology.

Gesture development is the ability to use and understand non-verbal communication to communicate with others using symbols, signs and gestures. In the early stages, it is when the child first starts to use gestures to express themselves.

In the following article, we’re going to be delving into the four different ways you can promote gesture development in children through the help of paediatric speech pathology.

1. Observation

One of the most natural ways to support children’s development of gestures, as taught in paediatric speech pathology, is to observe and copy their gestures. This helps them learn what different gestures mean and encourages them to use gestures more often. It also helps your child become familiar with their own gestures and the gestures of others, like raising the hand to ask a question, shaking the head to say no, and pointing at objects to indicate interest or recognition.

2. Barriers and contexts

Another way to promote the development of gestures in children is to use barriers and contexts to make gestures easier to understand. Barriers include physical objects like flashcards or two-dimensional signs and contexts like family conversations where gestures are regularly used in paediatric speech pathology. This will help the child to understand and respond to the body language they see and give them a starting point to create their own gestures.

3. Play-based activities

Play is another great way to foster gesture development. Playful activities, like turn-taking games or finger puppets, allow the child to practice their gestures and learn more about them. These activities inherently involve imitation and repetition, both of which are beneficial for gesture development.

4. Positive reinforcement

Lastly, simply acknowledging children’s gestures and giving them positive reinforcement helps to promote their continued use. This lets the child know that their gestures are being noticed, helping them to feel and express themselves. Additionally, the reinforcement can be used in combination with new models to help those gestures become more embedded in their daily language.


Promoting gesture development in children allows them to have a powerful, natural tool for communication and expression. By encouraging gesture use through observation, barriers and contexts, play, and reinforcement, parents and caretakers can help foster these skills and watch as their child develops into an active communicator.

The Nurture choice

Our team of speech pathologists here at Nurture Speech Pathology want to educate our patients, their family, friends, and loved ones on the most effective ways to communicate and interact within the neurodiverse community. Through our sessions, we aim to create a more compassionate and understanding approach where we all can offer our support to the needs of neurodivergent individuals.

Whether you’re looking to book a session with one of our Adelaide speech pathology services or have any questions, feel free to get in touch with our team today to begin your journey with us

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