A very powerful tool for encouraging, supporting and validating what children are doing is to copy and reflect back to them in sound. This gives the message that what they are doing is interesting and worthwhile.

You don’t need any specialist musical skills to play instruments in a similar way to a child – see this clip, filmed from the adult’s perspective:


Here’s an example of Bill copying by singing what a child is playing on a melodica (a ‘blowing piano’):


  • Doing this with kazoos is great – you can play a kazoo yourself. See how this boy is clearly enjoying having an adult kazooing back to him:


  • joining in play
  • singing about what they’re doing – making up songs – use familiar tunes and change the words; or start with the 2-note tune we all use when we call someone, and give it words.
  • five ways to respond, on a spectrum from ‘doing nothing’ to leading – contain / observe / join in / reflect and mirror / model extensions – for more detail of this go to this page
  • singing about what children are doing
  • adult instrumental ‘soundtracking’ of children’s play.

We can become a M I R R O R to their sounds:







Note the difference between mirroring and parroting – when we mirror we remain warm and human, and ourselves.