Pretend Play and Language Development
Now that it’s summer, school is out and it’s getting hot. Parents often ask, “What can I do at home to help my child’s Language Development’? My answer, “Play!” Pretend Play helps build language development. Whether you are building a fort, a tall tower, dressing up as princess and having a tea party or playing house, pretend play aids in language development. As a child begins to pretend, they begin to develop thinking skills that drive the development of language. They begin to understand symbols, think in analogies, infer meanings and develop theory of mind. Pretend play encourages your child’s imagination and provides them with abundant opportunities at exploring language and building both their receptive and expressive vocabulary.
True pretend play begins as early as 17-19 months. This is when a child pretends using his own body. i.e. pretend to brush his teeth, pretend to go to sleep, pretend to eat off a spoon. At this age a child can also look for hidden toys that they can’t see. It is at this stage that a child is learning that words represent things even when they are not present and can be used for making requests. As a child gets older, their pretend play becomes more elaborate as well as their language. The following link shows the parallel between pretend play and language development: Language Development and Pretend Play
So the next time your kid asks “Do you want to build a snowman?” say Yes and remember “It doesn’t have to be a snowman”. Build a castle with blocks, use blankets and build a fort, play drums on the pots and pans, use the hair brush as a microphone and sing your favorite song, put on a dress and pretend to be a princess, have a picnic in the fort you just built and pretend you are at the park feeding the ducks or break out the play dough and sculpt your favorite animals. When it’s time for bed get lost in a book with your little ones. Talk about the pictures, the colors you see and have them predict what will happen next. Building your child’s language can be as easy as playing. So get creative, put away the worksheets, take out the silly putty and imagine how much cooler you will be this summer.
Lisa G., Speech Therapy Team