Developing Toddlers’ Language Through play.

June 18, 2018

How does playing with my child help develop their language skills?

Play provides opportunities for your child to connect and interact with you in a fun way. Children learn a lot through play, it is an important way that they learn about the world. For example young children learn about what objects can do and how things work. They also learn a lot of language and communication skills through play, such as:

  • Turn taking
  • Eye contact
  • Copying – actions, sounds and words
  • Saying something to start/continue the activity
  • Commenting
  • Answering questions
  • Listening and paying attention 
  • Understanding language
  • Reading emotions
  • Problem solving
 Speech Therapy For Autistic Children      

What if my toddler likes to do their own thing?

One useful strategy, that sounds simple but is really effective in playing with young children who like to do their own thing, is to follow their lead.

 Following your child’s lead is to follow your child’s interests and respond with interest to what you child is communicating to you. So rather than getting your toddler to do what you want him to do, you follow what he/she wants to do.

How can I follow my child’s lead? 

  1. Respond with interest to what your child says or does
  2. Join in with your child’s play
  3. Copy what your child does
  4. Interpret what you think your child is trying to say – by putting it into words
  5. Comment on what your child and you are doing.

How can I Adapt my Language?

Some parents talk to their toddlers using adult-like language and many children are able to quickly understand such complex language. However, other little ones struggle and need more help to develop their language skills.

You can adapt your language to help your child by using the following 6 strategies:

  1. Repetition – use words several times within an activity
  2. Gesture – use gestures to help your child understand what your words mean
  3. Sentences – use complete but short sentences
  4. Emphasis – emphasize the important words
  5. Interpret – say the words that you think your child is trying to say
  6. Add on – if your toddler says a word – comment back by adding on some more words to help extend his/her language

For example, when you and your toddler are in the playground and he/she hand-leads you to the slide, you could point to the slide and say, ‘Oh slide! Timmy wants to go on the slide! Let’s go up the slide!’ By repeating the words several times (in a natural way), pointing and using gestures, it helps increase the child’s understanding of ‘slide’.

For another example, if you and your toddler are playing in the sandpit and your toddler says ‘sand’, you might interpret by saying ‘oh, you want more sand’, or you might add on by saying ‘the sand is wet’, or ‘Let’s dig the sand’.

What play activities are best?

Whatever your child is interested in!

There are so many things our toddlers are interested in! And so much language we can expose them to in various activities.

From classic nursery rhymes to playing in the sandpit, from playdough to books, from trains to pretend play with dolls and teddies.

See our following Blogs for different types of play activities and the types of words that you can include within your play.

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