Play is often called "the work of children," because it is such an integral part of their development. Children learn how to interact with their environment, create, problem solve and most importantly acquire speech, language and social-emotional skills. As children grow their play skills grow with them allowing for new development of skills that are more complex.
What ever age your child is, parents play a HUGE role in helping facilitate the growth of language skills through playing with their child
Play for infants is simple but very important. This can mean holding them in your lap and playing early social games with them, such as "So big, Peek-a-boo, Patty Cake". These are they standard games parents like to play with their little ones. However you know your child best and can adapt or create new games based on their likes. Songs are also a great interactive game that uses hand motions and facial expressions.
The development of verbal language at this time has an impact on developing play skills. That this level, toddlers begin to imitate the language and behavior of their caretakers. At this age, toddlers are also moving around quite a bit! It is important to move with them and play with toys that interest them.
At this age, children engage in more make-believe play. I remember lining up all my dolls and pretending they were going to the market, or eating lunch with friends. What a fun stage of play!
Make-believe play can involve dress-up, acting out past events the child has experienced, or dressing and feeding a doll. At this stage a child's imagination also becomes evident, suddenly the ground is hot lava and a stick becomes a sword.
How to facilitate language through play
Follow your child's lead:
Become and observer in your child's play and engage them in activities that they find interesting. This is more motivating for the child and allows for greater opportunities for language interaction.
Practice turn taking:
Turn taking is an important social and communicative skill. Establish successful turn-taking routines at any age. Offering a pause when it is their turn will increase your child's initiation, communication and independence. This can be as simple as making noises with your baby and waiting for your baby to make noises back at you and so on. With older children you can take turns stacking rings or blocks.
Model: Play is a great opportunity for your child to attach meaning to words. Modeling the language for your child exposes them to new vocabulary. In addition to modeling for them expand on their sentences as well.
EX. Child says "dog" Parent says: "Ya! Thats a black dog." This exposes your child to descriptor words and longer sentence structure.
Play is ESSENTIAL to a child's language development. It contributes to the cognitive, motor, and social-emotional development. When parents play with their children they have the opportunity to grow their skills across all areas.