Play and Early Language

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Talking and playing together is one of the best ways to help develop your child’s language

How can playing help my child’s talking?

Young children learn best through play. Children learn to link words to objects, actions and concepts through their play. They also learn about sharing, interacting, and communicating with others.  Children learn through copying the world around them and will often copy your actions around the house. They will soon begin to copy you in play.

Stay and Play sessions

Hackney offers Stay and Play sessions at each of its Children’s Centres across the borough. Your
child can attend these sessions for free. These are an opportunity to interact with other children and families and play with your child using different toys.

Sessions may also include activities such as healthy cooking, playing with sounds, messy play and story time.

To find out more contact your local Children’s Centre or speak to a Speech and Language Therapist.

Tips for talking

Get down on your child’s level – This will mean they can see your face and will help them learn more about communicating. It will also help you to notice what they are looking at and interested in.

Follow your child’s lead in play   Play with the toys your child chooses. Try not to tell your child what to do in the game – see what they do first and join in.

Extend their play – e.g. pretend to drink from a cup if your child is holding a tea cup.

Add words – Talk about what your child is looking at or doing.

Use simple language – If your child is not yet using any words, choose one word or even a sound to comment. For example: ‘down’ or ‘whee!’

Things to remember
• Try not to ask too many questions. Questions reduce the amount of language children use.
• Let your child start the talking – with a look, an action or a word. It’s OK to play in silence for a while.
• Repeat the words your child uses.
• Add words to expand on what they’re saying. If your child says ‘Fall down’ – you could say ‘Yes,  the horse fell down’.
• Use new words again and again – repetition is good!
• Use new words in different situations – e.g. ‘duck’ in a book, playing with toy farm, visit to a pond…