5 Tips for Developing your Child’s Language Skills Through Play

Latus Therapy is no stranger to language development in children. We have online speech therapists dedicated to helping patients reach their language goals. Speech therapists are asked all the time: How is it possible to help my child learn through play?

Study after study suggests that playing is paramount for children to develop language skills. Play has been called “the work of children” because it is through play that children learn howto interact in their environment, discover their interests, and acquire cognitive, motor, speech, language, and social-emotional skills (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2007).

Here are 5 helpful tips for developing your child’s language skills through play:

Follow you child’s lead: Let your child take the lead during playtime and observe what interests them. Increased child engagement allows greater opportunities for language acquisition.

Practice turn taking: Establishing successful turn-taking routines will facilitate social and communicative skill development in young children. Turn taking is a skill that can easily be promoted through play with children of any age. Offering a brief pause when it is his turn will increase your child’s initiation, communication, and independence. During play, parents can facilitate turn taking by cooing at a baby and waiting for a response and then cooing back. With toddlers or preschoolers, you can take turns stacking blocks. Older children can take turns formally through organized games such as certain sports or board games. Techniques to facilitate turn taking include: using facial expressions, body language (e.g., making eye contact and waiting, gesturing for the child’s response), and asking questions.

Be a model and language expander: Children must be exposed to language before they can start to use terms on their own. Play is an excellent opportunity for a child to attach meaning to words and build vocabulary. Providing accurate language input can include commenting about what you or your child are doing, adding a word or phrase to the child’s short phrases, exposing your child to synonyms, or by modeling the correct sentence structure.

For example:
Child: dog. Parent: Yes, a big dog.
Child: dog Parent: Run dog, run!
Child: goed fast Parent: Yes, the dog is fast.
Child: Mom, that’s a big dog! Parent: Yes, it’s enormous!

Sing songs: Singing songs can help with phrase repetition for smaller children. It can also introduce them to new words. It could also be helpful for a caregiver to act out songs with hand motions or body movements (like the hokey pokey) to stimulate motor coordination which will stimulate even more of the child’s brain during playtime.

Read books together: Books are filled with opportunities to facilitate language skills. While reading stories that are familiar to your child, you can develop speech, language, and memory skills. Expose your child to a variety of books and watch to see what books he/she prefers. By following your child’s lead, you will capture his attention. Initially, you should read books with simple pictures and simple text. As a child gets older, you can ask questions and discuss pictures in more depth. Have a complete dialogue with an older child about why they liked the book or how it could have been better if they had written it themselves.

We hope these 5 tips help! If you are interested in seeking professional help for your child’s language development, talk to our team! We have compassionate, engaging speech and language pathologists ready to help! Latus Therapy is an online therapy provider which is usually the most convenient option for families! The process is easy to get started. Click here!

Atlanta Speech School. The Importance of Play in the Development of Language SkillsJackie M. Oddo,M.S., OTR/L &Leigh Castleberry(Former Speech-Language Pathology Intern)

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