Implementing Prompts

Written by Tricia Au

1. Identify the skill that you want your child to learn

Make sure that the targeted skill is something that you can measure and observe. This is so that when data is collected, you are able to pinpoint if what has been implemented is working for your child or maybe a different approach should be used. For example, if you want your child to learn to greet their friends, you can set the targeted skill as: “Amy has to greet “hello” (observable) to 2 peers (measureable) .”

2. Choosing reinforcers

Reinforcers are used to motivate your child when learning a new skill. It helps to increase the probability of your child using the skill again. In the process of selecting a reinforcement for your child. You will need to consider:

  • What motivates your child?

  • What is something that they really want but can’t get easily?

Some reinforcers that you can consider using:

  • Verbal praises

  • Pat on backs or hugs

  • Activity/ toy/ food that child enjoys a lot

  • Opportunity to have their own time to do what they like

3. How to apply prompts

  • Prompting can be done by using a least to more prompt level method. Starting by providing minimal prompts. If your child is not responding to the prompt gradually add in more prompts to better support your child in the learning process.

  • For example, if your child is learning how to put their bag in the cubicle according to their picture. At the beginning, verbal prompting can be applied to assist your child at putting their bag in the right cubicle. If your child does not respond to the verbal prompt, you can add gestural or physical prompt along with the verbal prompt. For instance, “let’s keep your bag in the cubicle” (verbal prompt) + points to the cubicle that child needs to put their bag into (gestural prompt)”

  • As the child begins to respond better with the prompts. You can try giving your child longer time to respond before prompting your child. Sticking to the previous example, “let’s keep your bag in the cubicle” (verbal prompt) + allow a 3 seconds delay for the child to respond. You can also increase from 3 seconds to 5 seconds.

  • At the beginning of learning the new skill, the child may need frequent prompts, however once you notice that your child is able to gradually carry out the skill without prompts, start to decrease the implementation of prompts. Fading off helps your child to achieve independence when carrying out the skill.

  • Fading off prompts can also apply to the features of items. For example, if you are teaching your child to recognize the shape circle. You may put a circle and a square in front of your child to help them distinguish the shape circle easily. Once your child is able to identify the shape circle with contrasting shape, you can decrease the dissimilarity of the shapes, for instance you can put a circle and an oval side by side and have your child pick out the shape circle. Besides that, you can also replace interesting items that your child likes by using more commonly used items.

  • Prompts can be really helpful when your child is learning a new skill, however it is important to make sure that your child does depend heavily on prompts. As parents, teachers or caregivers, you need to ensure that your child is responding to not only the prompts but also the appropriate cues given. When you notice that your child is responding to the prompts well, start to think of ways that you can slowly fade off the prompts to avoid the child from being too dependent on it. You can do so by praising or rewarding the child when they respond well with the prompt at the beginning stages of learning the new skill. As the child advances, praise or reward the child when they respond without the help of prompts to promote independence.

4. Assessment and evaluation

  • It is important to record what is being done throughout the process of the child learning the new skill. This will help you better understand what prompts work best for the child and how can we start to initiate fading off prompts. Even though each new skill may require different prompts, having a record will give us a better idea on how to modify and tweak your approach in guiding your child. By having a record of what the new skill is, what prompts are being used and how to fade off is also very convenient when you communicate with those that work closely with your child. This creates consistency on all sides when the child is learning the new skill.

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  • Mark the column with a tick to indicate which prompt was used.

  • In the “remark” column of the table above, you can describe how the prompt was given. You can also note down significant details of the process of your child learning the skill.


If you have not already read about our post on what prompting is, you can click on this link here.

Thank you for reading the post. Let us know in the comments on how you implement different types of prompts for your child or student!

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