When it comes to a baby doll, it’s not only a lifeless toy that is sitting in a doll pram or laying on a girl’s bed. Dolls add much more value to a child’s life. I can remember when my daughter was three years old, her best doll was a Fisher Price doll called “Joey”. Every day Joey would participate in all my daughter’s different plays. She was becoming more than just a doll to her. She would take her everywhere, make sure that she is warm, happy and even have enough nappies in a bag on longer daytrip outings. Joey was always in my daughter’s company and became part of our family. This doll would ate, sang, read or whatever my daughter felt her like doing. As my daughter grew older Joey was becoming my daughter’s very best friend. She loved doing role-play sessions with her and would be very excited about what the doll accomplished on that day by sharing it with all of us. That makes me think to write about how playing with toys can improve speech and language with a child.
Why Is It Important In Role-Plays To Practice Speech And Language
As I mentioned with my daughter’s favourite doll, it gave her opportunity to improved her speech and language skills through communicating, role-plays or instructions given out for her to do. Play is the foundation of speech and language.
Researchers suggest that play is a central ingredient in learning, it allows children to imitate behaviors, practice motor skills, process emotional events and at the same time learn about their environment. During playtimes it builds the imagination and creativity. Play improves the cognitive, physical, social and emotional well-being of a child.
Dolls can improve confidence and self-esteem within a child. It also can strengthen empathy, help with problem solving and basic concepts.
Different Play Skills To Elicit Speech and Language
From as early as two years ‘relation play’ are used during playtimes, for example, “Put the doll in the pram and give him his bottle”. By explaining to the child what you want him/her to do will help the child to follow an action through and the child can relate the doll with the pram and the bottle. You can play many similar relation play games to practice their speech and language.
From three years ‘creative play’ can be practiced by having a plan with the baby doll for example, “The baby is hungry, you need to feed him”. The child will know that the doll is hungry, so it needs a bottle. Another example: “The baby is crying; her diaper is wet!”. The child will know that the diaper needs to be changed. Let the child understand why the doll is hungry or why does the nappy needs to be changed. The child can put the action to the play and explain what she/he is doing by using speech at the same time.
From four years ‘imaginary play’ can be practiced with speech and action like: “I hear your baby is crying. Why is she crying?” Let the child explain why the doll is crying. Continue the conversation by asking “Do we need to take her to a doctor to check why she is crying”. Action and conversation through role-play makes it more believing and interesting to play.
13 Best Speech Therapy Activities To Practice
- Vowels and consonants gets a great response from children. Simple sounds like Ma, aa, ooh help the child to talk, they listen to it and try to imitate you.
- Speak slowly so that he/she can understand you. Make eye contact and speak slowly and patiently. Let the child repeat the words after you. If it is incorrect, gently repeat words in the correct manner, so that they understand the difference.
- Introducing of colours and shapes make participation in plays more interesting. Say the name of the color and the shape as you play. Both the colour and shape can naturally be distinguished at the same time.
- Vocabulary can be improved by introducing prepositions to your play for example: “Look for the rattle, it is laying next to the bed.” Let the child repeat after you.
- Introduce body movements parts like touching your ear or shaking your hands. Incorporate songs like “Hands, heels and toes” with actions and it will be more fun for them to play.
- Clapping of hands, “Peek-a-boo” or “Itsy-bitsy spider” games keep them entertained. All these gestures associate a word with a meaning and help to build the vocabulary.
- Singing and rhyming children’s songs and nursery rhymes will encourage their speech with rhythm and rhyming words.
- Asking questions like: “What color is the baby’s dress? or “what should you do when the baby is thirsty?” Let the child explain it in her own words and correct where needed.
- Environmental sounds are great foundations during plays for verbalizations for speech and language goals. Practice sounds like eating, sleeping, crying, singing, whispering and talking.
- Tell your child about your every day activities so that they know what you are doing like “I am making food” or “I am washing the dishes”. Talk to him/her and explain where you are going, why are you going in simple language.
- Switch off the TV while practicing their speech and language through role-plays. Children get easily distracted when it is on and won’t listen what you want them to learn or repeat afterwards.
- Play with your child by communicating with your child. It improves their motor skills. Allow your child to explain to you what he/she is doing and to how to play it. Stay in the background while the child is explaining and demonstrating the play to you.
- Reading of books is also very important for speech and language. Let the child sit next to you and watch the colorful pictures and listen how you pronounce the words.
Which Toys Can Improve The Development of Speech And Language
- Toy cars, trucks or trains that is not making noise. Get down to your child’s level and play. Make noises and sounds of the toy and the child will imitate you.
- Animal Farm Set – Teach your child animal noises. It is the earliest sounds to develop.
- Baby Dolls – Discuss how the baby is feeling and do pretend plays, while coming up with a solution.
- Kitchen Sets – Allow your child to do role-plays being an adult following direction and introduce new vocabulary words such as cook, bake, mix and stir. If they understand the words, make sure to show them by helping to produce the action.
Nothing works better than a toy to help improve a child’s speech and language development. Playing promotes confidence, without pressurizing your child to talk. Playing is fun and they like to learn faster this way through demonstrations. Communicating through role-play is very important for developing the speech and language and it will improve their vocabulary. Make it still fun by adding songs, demonstrating, dances and color to your plays.