Play and How it Stimulates Language Development: by Chicago Speech Therapy

There are two very important things to remember when teaching your child how to speak: play and repetition.  These two ingredients make it easier for children to learn and process language.

What Are the Benefits of Play?

Play is the encouragement and allowance for your child to experiment with sounds, words, and expression.  This is a natural state where they learn social cues, and understand the ways others communicate.  Mirroring and taking turns are learned during play time.  These games can help them understand how to listen, watch, imitate and learn the ways you communicate.

As the saying goes, practice makes perfect.  This is true when learning almost anything.  Repetition helps us to form patterns in our brains.  We learn from experience, so if a specific one happens over and over we can recognize this, and identify how to reach the end result quickly from our own memory of it.

Using the knowledge above you can be as creative as you want to teach your child.  Toys and games often present new ways to introduce information.  Imitation is a great way to teach children.

Examples of Effective Play

A child bangs a block on the ground.  Take the block and do the same thing, then wait for the child to perform another action.  The child says “eeeeee” and waves his or her hand in the air.  Repeat the sound and the gesture as the child did and wait for the next move.  The next turn, you may repeat the child and add on your own ending, perhaps reading the letter on the block, “B” and making a “b” sound, “baaaa.”  Even if the child doesn’t get the sound right, you are introducing new information.  He or she is also learning the patterns of discussion as you take turns going back and forth.  Listening is a vital part of communication, and easily taught using this form of play.

Even the most mundane tasks can be turned into play.  Folding the laundry can introduce colors and logos on tee-shirts can introduce letters.  Take the time to show your child different examples from the world around him or her.  Toys and games can be made from any number of things in a child’s environment.  Everything around infants is brand new to them, and they need a proper introduction to it all.

Guide to Purchasing Toys

When purchasing toys today, you are concerned on two different levels: Will my child react well to this?  Will he or she effectively learn?  It is often the case that the flashy moving toys capture the child’s attention, but don’t provide any valuable information for your child to learn.  Be sure that whatever toys you invest in allow for play and conversation.  If the toy does all the moving and talking and expressing, what’s left for your child to do?  Choose toys that remind them of their surroundings: people with faces, and environments they’ve been in (grocery stores, house, park).  This will allow them to imitate the things they’ve witnessed during play time.  Children react to different things, so take note of what your child is most aware of.

If you are concerned with your child’s speech or language development, please contact Chicago Speech Therapy by calling 312-399-0370 or by clicking on the “Contact Karen” button on the upper right section of this page.

Karen George is a Chicago speech-language pathologist. The practice she founded, Chicago Speech Therapy, LLC, provides in-home pediatric speech therapy in Chicago and surrounding suburbs. Karen and her team of Chicago speech therapists have a reputation for ultra-effective speech therapy and work with a variety of speech disorders. Karen is the author of several books such as A Parent’s Guide to Speech and Language Milestones, A Parent’s Guide to Articulation, A Parent’s Guide to Speech Delay, A Parent’s Guide to Stuttering Therapy, and A Parent’s Guide to Pediatric Feeding Therapy. She is often asked to speak and has addressed audiences at top Children’s Hospitals and Northwestern University. Karen is highly referred by many Chicago-area Pediatricians and elite schools.