Play-Based Activities to Promote Language

Did you know you can promote language development with the activities you are already doing?  Here are five tips for helping your child learn language through interaction.


1. Let your child direct the play.  Let go of the reigns and stop planning.  Let your child know that you are interested in what they are doing by:

  • Moving to their eye level
  • Engaging in the activity they choose
  • Copying their play

Be interested in what they have to say and how they want to play!


2. Take turns talking with your child.  Like any good conversational partner, don't forget to WAIT and LISTEN even if your child doesn't talk yet.  When you are quiet, it leaves room for your child to fill the space with sounds, words, or expressions!


3. Model language.  When talking about what your child is doing, make sure you're speaking at a level close to theirs. Make language fun!  Model familiar nouns and fun sounds.  If your child is already talking, add new kinds of words, like adjectives and verbs, to the mix.


4. Build routines.  When you engage in routine play with your child, they will begin to expect the same steps and the same language and actions.  When they know what's next, they are more likely to participate!  Some examples include predictable books ("Brown Bear, Brown Bear," "Five Little Monkeys"), Peek-a-Boo, "I'm Gonna Get You", or familiar songs.  Don't forget to wait and listen to give your child a chance to participate!


5. Stop anticipating.  Parents are great at anticipating their child's needs, but don't forget to give your child a chance to learn that they can use language and communication to get their needs met!  Whether it's signing, an augmentative device, or speech, give your child the chance to ask you for the things he wants or needs.  Give him the chance to imitate all that great modeling you've been doing!


*Adapted from materials from the Hanen Centre.


Do you want more support in helping your child develop language?  Sign up for the Hanen It Takes Two to Talk program by calling 410-274-0041.  We have a few open slots for individual coaching sessions!

Shanna Klump is a speech-language pathologist and CEO of Kid Connections Therapy, a speech/language therapy clinic in Severna Park, Maryland.