Play & Speech Development

How does sensory play help develop speech?

We often talk of sensory play and how we love it so much, and here is one of the reasons. Sensory experiences give us parents an opportunity to introduce new words through play when we experiment, create, investigate and explore.

Learning new words through play helps in understanding the words’ true meaning over just repeating after others. Talking about what they see, taste, hear and feel is a great aid for developing language.

Using the senses as a guide, prompts us parents in how we can communicate with our child. We can share our observations as we do activities together. We can use a variety of descriptive words to help them navigate through play. We can express emotion when we hear music or feel excitement over something.

A way to stimulate language is by modelling language during our interactions with our child. We can talk about what we are doing (self-talk) and what the child is doing (parallel talk). Using self-talk and parallel talk allows us to engage children in an interaction, providing multiple examples words or aspect of grammar in context, without requiring the child to respond. We do this by narrating or commentating over asking questions.

For example we can use parallel talk at our sensory sations by saying, “Ah, I see you are looking at so many tools. Now you are scooping the seeds! Oh, you have filled up the container.”

Or perhaps self talk at the craft table when we model how the craft can be made. Say, “I am pumping some paint on my hand, paint goes squirt! Now, I will spread this blue paint on my hand, blue is my favourite colour!”

These instances allow us to fill our child with words but gives no pressure for a response. If we do engage in asking questions, make sure to allow for long pauses to give the child an opportunity to organise her thoughts and get her message across. Giving our children a safe and secure space allows them the confidence to express their thoughts and ideas with all the new words they learned through play!

What have been your favourite sensory play experiences with your little one lately? Have you tried the tips above to work those words in your play? Share your experiences in the comments below or catch us on Instagram @messybabyplay! Our inbox is always open!

Playing together gives parents the opportunity to model speech for their kids.

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