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Learning Language Through Play

play and language development

Language learning is an ongoing process that occurs all day long during everyday activities and especially during play. When you get at your child's level and "play", you're enhancing language and communication skills in a very indirect kind of way. Even when your child is an infant and you play little repetitive and imitative games with her you are enhancing her communication skills. I found an article on that describes this kind of interaction very well.

With a child who is developing language more slowly than his peers there are some things you want to keep in mind during your playtime with him.

During play it is so natural for parents and other adults to ask the child questions, like "what are you playing with?', "where does that go?", "what color is that car?", etc. This is counter-productive for the child who may have a language delay. Instead, your child would benefit from objects and actions being labeled in more of an indirect kind of way. Make comments instead of asking questions. Asking questions during play or expecting your child to repeat what you have said will only put pressure on your child, especially if she doesn't know the vocabulary. Think of it in the same way as an adult learning a foreign language. You'd pick up the language much better if everything was labeled for you in context, rather than if you were constantly asked questions. Enough said.

5 Points to Remember While Playing With Your Child

  • Follow your child's lead and follow what he is interested in.
  • Use single words or signs or short phrases while commenting - not long sentences.
  • Don't feel you have to comment of every action.
  • Repeat words and phrases often. It may seem dull to you, but it's not to a young child.
  • Try to vary your inflection pattern and pitch. Young children are more likely to imitate this.

3 Methods of Indirect Language Stimulation to Use While Playing

  • Parallel Talk - This is centered on what your child is doing, seeing and hearing as they are playing. For example: "You have a ball.", "You are pushing the car.", etc.
  • Descriptive Talk - This is centered on the object and you provide the word or sign labels for the objects your child is playing with. For example: "The ball is rolling.", "The ball is red.", etc.
  • Self Talk - This is centered on what you are doing as your child is watching. Again use short phrases or sentences. For example: "I'm tying my shoe.", "I threw the ball.", etc.

Children need to hear language (or see signs) in order to learn how to use language. By giving labels and describing actions to the things your child uses and is playing with, your child can begin to make the connections between the object and the word. Your child will eventually use these words. And remember, repetition of the same word or action is necessary for that connection to take place.

How to Help Your Child Learn to Talk Better in Everyday Activities is a fabulous downloadable ebook that will provide you with even more ideas to help your child talk to you in everyday interactions, including play. In this ebook, you will get:

  • Ways to make this a more comfortable process for you and your child.
  • Answers to your questions as to why your child isn’t talking like other children.
  • Methods that work with the late talking child and also with a child who won't just “outgrow” her speech difficulties.
  • Information to help you stop worrying.
  • Satisfaction knowing you are helping your child.

Also, here is an excellent article on the importance of play in a child's overall development:

Filed under Birth to 3 years old, Expressive Language, Language Development by Tami

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Comments on Learning Language Through Play

April 3, 2008

Eve @ 2:57 pm

This was a very helpful site! Hey, I know of a site too. I think it's, it's pretty awesome!

April 5, 2008

teris @ 12:40 am

I worked as a play therapist for years with disturbed preschoolers. It was amazing what the kids would "tell you" through their play. As part of my job, I taught a parenting class. One of the main points of this class was helping parents learn to communicate with their children through play.
It was based on a a book by Carolyn Webster Stratton called The Incredible Years.

teris's last blog post..30% Off Mom's Day Sale at Ananya Studio

[...] be incorporated into everyday activities such as meal time, bath time, getting dressed and even play time. Incorporating language learning in this way enhances meaning and context which are both incredibly [...]

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