Friday, January 25, 2013

Promoting Language Development Through Play-Based Activities

Promoting Language Development Through Play-Based Activities
It is the beginning of 2013 and we wanted to take the time to discuss how parents can use play-based activities to promote language development in a child’s life.  Did you know the first few years of a child’s life are critical to the development of cognitive, speech, and language skills?  Have you ever wondered why your child’s therapist's use games and toys in the therapy session?  Well, Speech-Language Pathologists are trained to align strategy, procedure, and theory to play-based activities.  Parents frequently ask speech-language pathologist what kind of toys to get their toddler, so we will briefly recommend toys and discuss how a parent/caregiver can use techniques to increase language development.  After all, you do not need specialized training to provide a positive start to your child’s life!  Before we recommend our toys it is important to know that in order to use these toys to help support speech and language development YOU, as the parent/caregiver, must help to facilitate that language.  In order for the child to learn these concepts, he/she must have someone there to teach the concepts. 
Okay let’s get started!!!!  Below are a list of a few toys and how they can be used to promote language development.  These are to give our parents/caregivers ideas on how to select toys and what we are looking for.
Toy #1:  The Baby Doll- The Baby Doll is a great toy.  You can use a baby doll to teach language concepts such as:
·         Body parts
·         Clothing labels
·         Verbs/feelings (i.e. eat, drink, sleep)
·         Basic concepts (i.e. prepositions, colors, size concepts) when used with other baby toys.
·         Answering “wh” questions (i.e.  Is she sleeping?, Where is the baby?)
Toy #2:  Cars/Trucks/Trains- Toddlers love to play with these toys.  These toys promote several language concepts that a child can gain.
·         Basic Concepts
o   Like counting, big/small, some, all, more, fast, and slow.
·         Part/Whole relationship (i.e. wheels, windows, bumpers, doors)
·         Verbs and Adjectives- Cars are a great tool for working on actions and describing words (i.e. go, stop, fast, slow, and etc.)
·         Social/pragmatic skills
o   Turn-taking
o   Saying “May I have the car please?”
Toy #3: A Farm Set- This is a great toy to have in the home.  Let’s look at some of the language concepts that you can find with this toy.
o   Naming animals and animal sounds (you can pair this activity with the Old MacDonald song).
o   Basic Concepts 
§  Prepositional concepts (in, on, out, under, between, next to)
o   Answering “WH” questions (i.e. Where is the cow?, Who is eating? Which animal makes the oink sound?, etc.”
Toy #4: Stacking/Nesting Items- These toys can be used for multiple language concepts.
o   Prepositions (i.e. in/out)
o   Color concepts
o   Shape concepts
o   Size concepts
o   Counting skills
o   Cause and effect relationships
Toy #5:  Toy phones
o   The toy phone is a classic item in a world filled with technology.  The toy leaves room for spontaneous language.  Turn-taking skills, producing more words, some children will even practice speech sounds on his/her pretend phone.
When selecting a toy, look for items that interest the child but have multiple language concepts.  The idea is for the child to work on language skills without knowing they are working.
We are also recommending an awesome website that gives an award called the PAL  Awards (Play that Advances Language) established by respected speech and language expert Sherry Artemenko.  This website recognizes exceptional toys, games, and books through their design, content, and quality that promote play that advances language.  Here you will find great toys, books, and games to have in the home that will facilitate language development!
Be sure to contact your speech-language pathologist if you would like further information!
Brittney Goodman M.S.,CCC-SLP
MedCare Pediatric Rehab Center