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An Overlooked Toy for Language Development…

One of the most underrated toys that we have to play with our children is one that is adaptable, portable, free and most importantly a great deal of fun! It’s you as a parent. When you and your child play together not using other toys, you replace the toy. This is a great thing to keep in mind when thinking about how to best to help your child build their language. A recent study found that children who had language delays, had more interactions that improved their language skills when playing with their parents without a toy compared to with a toy.

Examples of these activities include:

  1. Hide and seek

  2. Peekaboo

  3. “This little piggy” with our toes

  4. Tickles

  5. Chasing

Games with people have many advantages including:

  1. You can tailor a game to suit your child. All children are unique, have their own interests and are at different stages. Often the most effective games are the ones that you as a parent make up with your child, after all you know them best!

  2. Often people games are played similar ways each time. You can use the same gestures and words over and over, giving them more opportunity to learn

  3. Your child gets to use these words to practice taking turns. This is an important building block for conversation.

  4. Your child can easily focus on you. Your child learns language best when they interact with others. If your child is still in the early stages of language development they may have trouble swapping their attention back and forth between yourself and the toy, causing them to focus on the toy alone. This doesn’t give nearly the same opportunities for them to learn as they would gain from you!

  5. Along the same lines, you as a parent can easily focus on your child, and not get distracted by intriguing toys!

  6. Children at all levels of language development can participate. Games often have turns with gestures as well, which gives with opportunity for child to still take a turn within the game even if they don’t currently have many words.

This is just one small thing you can do if you are concerned about your child’s language development. If you would like further information about improving your child’s language development, give our office a call on (02) 4948 9800. We can assess your child’s speech, language and communication skills and provide you with an intervention plan to meet your child’s language and communication needs. We specialise in personalised, individual therapy which is targeted to the needs of your child and suited to your family lifestyle.

Written by Emilia

Speech Pathologist

Newcastle Speech Pathology

Reference List

Weitzman, E. (2017). It Takes Two to Talk: A Practical Guide for Parents of Children with Language Delays (5th ed.). Hanen Early Language Program: Toronto, Ontario.

DeVeney, S., Cress, C. J., & Lambert, M. (2016). Parental Directiveness and Responsivity Toward Young Children with Complex Communication Needs. International Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 18:1, 53-64.

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