VIDEO: Incorporating Language Into Play

Clinical Expertise

May 29, 2021

Medical Reviewer: Taylor West, M.A., CCC-SLP
Last Updated: January 13, 2023

Video Transcript

Children begin to develop their language skills well before they utter their first words.

As infants, children begin to learn cause and effect skills by discovering that their hands are tools for their environment. And they begin to learn the back and forth nature of communication as their parents babble back to them.

As toddlers, children begin to develop their pretend play skills, their turn-taking skills and the ability to imitate actions and words by participating with both their peers and their parents.

How can you help your child develop their language skills through play?

A good rule of thumb to start off with is to make sure that you’re providing your children with open ended toys. Open ended toys are toys that can be played with in many different ways and a good, you know another rule of thumb would be, if it requires batteries, maybe rethink that toy. We need to make sure that your child is doing the playing, not the toy.

Another tip for helping your child to develop their language skills through play is by providing them with a language rich experience. Model simple language while you play with your child, baby eat, go car. Make sure that you’re using language that is just as long or a little bit longer than your child’s. So if your child is producing one word utterances, maybe provide them with one to two word sentences while you play.

Lastly, it’s so important to make sure that your child is engaged with the toy that you want them to play with. The more engaged your child is with the toy the more likely it is you’re going to get some good interaction with them.

So make it fun.

So let’s look at some toys that offer a great opportunity for enriching the language development of your child.

First stacking cups, you can provide models for up and down. You can also hide objects inside the cups and play a hide and seek game. So you can open it and say, hi. And then close it, bye.

Another great toy, cars. These are great. You can do back and forth communication. Turn-taking, so pushing back and forth with each other. You can model go, push, crash, lots of great verbs, remembering to use simple language while you do it.

And finally, baby dolls, these are great for helping develop not only vocabulary but social emotional development. We can, you know, rock the baby. We can feed the baby, remembering using small utterances. So things like eat baby, drink baby and developing that pretend play. Shh, it’s okay, baby.

A child’s most important job is to develop the skills that they’ll need to be successful adults. And they do this through play.

Some simple things to help them do this include choosing open-ended toys, modeling simple language for them and making it super engaging. So choose some great toys and have fun.

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Medical Reviewer

Taylor West, M.A., CCC-SLP

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