Tuesday, March 12, 2024

The Purpose of Play

 Play (verb) to engage in an activity for enjoyment.

Why play with your child? 

Through play, children learn to communicate their thoughts & ideas and develop skills of social & emotional regulation. 

Play should vary based on your child’s age or developmental level. 

For the earliest language learners and for children with difficulty learning language, start by simply being with the child. Sit at the child’s level. Observe what toys or objects the child is interested in, then join in. Show the child that you’re interested in their ideas! 

Sensory-motor play is another way to engage with early language learners and children with language difficulties. Engage a variety of senses as you play with the child. For example, rub the child’s back, tickle the child, push the child on a swing, blow bubbles, sing, clap out a rhythm to a favorite song. Notice what the child likes! Which type of play gets the child’s attention? 

When playing, vary the play after you have done the same pattern a few times in a row. For example, some examples of varying play while opening and closing a door might be opening and closing with a song, playing peek-a-boo, pretending to hit your head then fall down “ouch.” Variations in play often get the child’s attention and they will likely ask for “more”!

As a child moves into the higher developmental levels, he should show a good awareness of intentional and 2-way communication. The child should also start using first words! Now the child is ready to engage in play to expand their language. When speaking TO the child, do NOT use baby talk! When speaking FOR the child, use words to express the child’s perspective. For example, if the child says “up” then you model “pick me up.” 

Children also learn feelings and empathy during play. Label the child’s feelings in the moment, “you’re mad that your sister took your snack!” Your child will also learn as others model identifying their own feelings “I feel happy that you played with me!”

As the child begins simple pretend play, you can model silliness and imagination! Pretend a towel is a puppet and say “what a mess! Let me clean you up.” Any objects that are part of your child’s routine can be included in pretend play (clothes, shoes, toothbrush, utensils, etc.). Use big gestures and silly voices!

What’s the role of the Speech Therapist in play?

At Building Blocks Therapy Services, each of our Speech Therapists is equipped with the skills and knowledge to help your child learn language through play! We care about your child’s ability to communicate at home, school and in the community. Please, visit www.buildingblocksgr.com or call (616) 570-925 to learn more about supporting your child’s language development through play. We look forward to building a relationship with you and your child!


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