Developing your child's language through play

I've always believed in play being a wonderful medium for children to learn and grow. Babies show an interest in playing as soon as they start seeing beyond a close range. Toddlers pick up key skills through play - mainly improving their sensory, gross motor and fine motor skills.

Later, as they begin to develop speech skills, play can be a great way to improve their language and communication skills. I've already written about how playing with your child benefits your relationship with them, and helps you connect with each other.

If you feel that your child - whether a toddler, preschooler or any age where their language skills are still developing - needs to communicate better, you can use play time for creating opportunities to help them express themselves.

Using play to help your young child improve their language and communication skills.

These are three ways in which you can use play to help your child improve their language skills:

1. Use storytelling props

We did a simple version of this when my son was only 18 months old. Just use toys or make your own props to demonstrate a story together. This activity helps kids in forming sentences. Through telling a story, they learn to weave their thoughts together. You can use the most basic things as props, such as dolls and action figures, The story you create can be something familiar, or help them get imaginative, and make a new one.

You can also use the same props to make the stories more detailed as they get better at communicating. Work with your child through this and fill them in when they are lost for words,

2. Pretend play and roles

Nothing is more imaginative than enacting roles and pretending to be someone else! Kids love pretend play for a reason, and beyond just playing a character, you can encourage your child to speak like them. To improve their vocabulary, you can vary the roles. For instance, if your toddler is starting preschool, you can play ask them play a teacher or student, giving them the right words to express themselves in that setting. Role play can also teach empathy, and encourage kindness in your children. Put them in a sibling's or a friend's place and they can learn to use kind words and be friendly,

3. Games that encourage communication

Look for board games, flash cards, or any non-screen toys that encourage kids to speak. They could be games that ask them to identify things, or require them to communicate with other players. Besides store-bought games, there are many activities you can do together as a family.  They don't just help you bond, but improve their speaking skills as well.

This post is part of a Play Matters series being hosted on the Encourage Play blog. Click on the image below to read more posts on the importance of play.

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