Play School – 3 Reasons Play is Important for Language Development.
People often joke that children are like sponges. And oh, aren’t they just! From the moment you connect eyes with your newborn and they soothe to the sound of your voice, they are watching and listening.
Most importantly, they are putting what they see and what they hear together and so begins the learning process. So why is play important for language? Let’s have a look.
1. Let’s think back to the very start – infancy.
You might think that those little hands are for curling around fingers, for aimlessly whacking about or for spreading purees near and far. And you’d be right!
In more broad terms though, those little hands are playing, exploring and learning about their environment. They are learning cause and effect, a building block for play.
When those fingers curl around a rattle, and those ears hear “Shake, shake shake!”, your child is building associations between what they are hearing and what they are doing.
When they smile at you, and you smile back, you are teaching them turn-taking (and simultaneously warming your heart)! When they coo at you and you chatter back, you are teaching them the very basics of communication and conversation in play.
2. Moving up a notch – toddlers!
They are learning turn-taking in conversation and in games, as parallel play becomes a non-intrusive way for them to play around others.
It’s a perfect way for them to hear new words relating to new objects or new actions, and to pop that one away in their surprise vocabulary for later!
What’s your role in parallel play? To follow your child’s lead, and chatter away! Let them choose what to play with so that they can explore an interest and you can encourage engagement.
Then… Talk about everything. What is your child doing? What are you doing? What colours can you see? What noises would they make? You’d be amazed at how much you can talk about the one train set (believe us! we’re speechies!).
Remember, your child is always using their eyes, and always using their ears (Sometimes to Mum or Dad’s detriment! Whoops!).
3. Kindie kiddies
Dress ups and imaginary play are your pre-schooler’s best friends.
We often see our kindie kiddies playing Mums and Dads, role playing in the kitchen or feeding and bathing dolls. They are imitating language, behaviour and environments and are using play to make sense of what they have seen and heard.
Your child’s creativity and imagination is teaching them to expand their language, and start implementing the language that they hear others use.
They begin co-operative play, and will act out conflict and the subsequent conflict resolution (which is good news for the little ones with siblings!).
Furthermore, increasing attention means that your child could now start playing simple board games to practice following rules…and practice that we can’t win all the time!
Play is teaching your child to navigate the world around them, in social skills, behaviour and language.
Support your child’s interests; forget gender toys. Even try to kick the batteries! Our biggest tip of all; use the language that you want your child to explore (in moments of frustration, too!).
You are your child’s language example, and what an exciting responsibility that is!
Want more tips for developing language while you have fun and play with your child? Give us a call on 0423 334 144.