Play is one of the most beneficial things for a child’s language development, and it is fun! Play supports a child’s imagination, creativity, language, social and cognitive development. Most importantly, the interaction in play is extremely important for children to develop their language skills – it provides an opportunity to learn new words and sentences and practice using social language.
It is important to provide lots of opportunities to play with your child, even if these are short periods of time.
Tips for what to do when playing with your child:
- Follow your child’s lead in play by watching to see what they are interested in – this is motivating and engaging for your child. For example, if your child wants to build a tower out of Lego, join in with this.
- Show you are interested in their play by your body language and facial expressions (e.g., lean in and smile) and make comments on what they are doing (e.g., ‘that’s a huge green dinosaur!’).
- Engage in pretend (or imaginative) play with your child. You may need to show your child how to pretend play – such as being a doctor, playing mums and dads, pretend cooking, etc. You might need to help show your child how to think creatively and imaginatively, and model language to use while playing (e.g., “Let’s pretend we are making a cake. This stick can be our mixing spoon, and we can put leaves, sand and water in to make our cake”)
- Create a problem in pretend play with your child. For example, if playing with Lego and characters you could model a problem “Oh no! The cat is stuck in the tree!”
For more information and fun play activity ideas, see
The Hanen Centre® website – http://www.hanen.org/Helpful-Info/Fun-Activities.aspx
(Adapted from Hanen.org, 2015)
Speech Pathology Team