Play with words - C&D Independent Speech & Language Therapy
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Play with words

It can be quite difficult to understand the relationship that play has with language development.

Play will evolve naturally, starting from exploratory play where children are learning what to do with objects. By putting things in their mouths and holding them, children are learning that objects have functions. Once we learn that objects have functions, we then start to build up identities of them – for example; a phone: You can’t eat it. You can’t throw it. It makes noise and you must put it to your ear. This profiling by function is the first step in the eventual understanding that objects have names.

Children will then start to understand that a plastic spoon has the same function to a metal spoon even though it is smaller and perhaps a different colour. The beaker that they use is not the only holder that they can drink from even if it is their favourite. This begins to generalise and children will start to use everyday objects in a playful manner. You might see children feeding their teddies/dollies and then at around 18 months start to recognise miniature toys such as dolls house furniture and put them into different rooms of the dolls house instead of piling them up or banging them together as they did when they were younger. Your child is starting to piece together what is happening around them by copying what they see.

Understanding the world around them is crucial in beginning to use language. Words are the names of objects/actions with specific rules for sentence making, so understanding the detail in everyday life will help with learning the complexities of language. You could always join in with play and comment on what your child is doing. For example; “brushing teddy’s hair” or “washing dolly’s face”. This helps to associate words to actions and objects which we will expect children to eventually start doing on their own.

Cassie & Lizzie help children with their language skills in and around Essex including Chelmsford, Brentwood, Braintree, Witham and Colchester. If you would like an informal chat with qualified Speech & Language Therapists – or to book an assessment, please contact 07510 067 442.

Cassie Pierson