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The Power of Play

For children who are learning language, play is one of the most impactful activities that you can use to target skills at home. Play is how our children first experience the world around them. They truly are sponges and absorb so much from our interactions with them. There are several strategies that you can use to help increase language in play. Here are some strategies that I like to use to help facilitate language development.

Recasting: taking your child’s vocabulary and sending it back to them.

For example, your child says “fishy blue” during an interaction at home. Then you expand on what they say and send it back to them “oh, you want the blue fish.”

Setting up the environment: storing objects that your child is highly motivated by or wants in clear containers or out of their reach. This will allow your child to have to ask for help, label the objects, or use requests to get the objects that they want. As always, be sure to model if they are in the earlier stages of language by using language like “want ball” or “cars please.”

Routines and Wait Time: repeating activities, or actions, multiple times during interactions with children and then pausing to see if they complete the routine unaided. Think “ready, set, go” routines. If your child is sliding on a playground, then you could hold your child’s hands while you say “ready, set, go” repeating multiple times (at least 4 or 5 times to build up the routine). Then on the next turn just initiate “ready, set” and pause while still holding your child’s hands. Pause for 2-3 seconds prior to finishing the routine. Extend the pauses each time until the child finishes the routine. You can shorten the phrase that you say as your child progresses.

These are not an exhaustive list by any means, but they are some of the many ways that you can help target language in an informal setting.

Hannah Ryan, MS, CF-SLP