I play with children almost every day. Play is fun, but it is also a lot of work. I have to think quickly and kids have to enjoy playing with me. It is the best time a child learns, so I have to make sure I’m modeling appropriate language and expanding on every move or sound they make.
Why do I play with the kids so much?
- Play provides language learning opportunities
- Play teaches new concepts
- Play builds imagination
- Play develops social relationships
- Play fosters a child’s emotions
- Play helps a child solve problems
Here’s how you can make playtime work better for you, too:
- ASK FEWER QUESTIONS. Language isn’t a test. We cannot expect the child to know the answers to our questions if they haven’t been taught or shown the concepts we’re expecting them to know.
- USE MORE COMMENTS. Provide the words, phrases, and concepts during play. Narrate what they are doing and what you are doing. You might be surprised how much they pick up and remember from the process.
- MAKE IT FUN. Adults need to keep a child interested. Be loud, animated, and above all, INTERACTIVE!! Use silly sounds, appropriate comments (“Wow!”, “Uh-oh”, “Oh no!”).
- GET MOVING! Get up, run around, or jump up and down with the child. You may have noticed that kids generally love those toys that light up and make sounds, so BE THAT TOY!
With that said, always remember that it’s not what toys you buy, but the way you play with them.
- CREATE OPPORTUNITIES. Give children an opportunity to use the language you taught them. Put their favorite toy out of reach so they will ask for it. Put loose pieces in a clear container so they can ask for assistance to open the box. Don’t give them everything all at once. Let them ask for more, and provide them with choices.
- HAVE FUN! This is play time, after all, and you should be enjoying yourself. If you’re not having fun, the children will figure that out, too.
—–Michele Wilson is a Speech Language Pathologist and part of the VBA family. Direct questions towards her at firstname.lastname@example.org.