Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Power of Play - The Best Way to Teach Your Toddler to Talk


The number one way to get your toddler talking and communicating is through play. Why play? Because all children and toddlers learn through play. Play creates the desire for your toddler to talk and communicate. Play is fun and is a natural part of a child's development. It helps develop a child's cognitive, physical, social, and emotional skills. Through play, parents are also able to connect with their children and devote that special one-on-one time that all children enjoy. Not only is play entertaining for your toddler, it can also be fun for you! You can play peek-a-boo, go to the park, do an activity, or play with toys. The possibilities are endless!

Play is considered to be a developmental skill because it is a natural activity that children do. If a child does not play then it can be a sign that his or her language skills are delayed. The reason is because play is a representation of a child's language skills. This is just one of the many reasons why play is important. Some research also suggests that play and cognition are interrelated. The more advanced a child's play skills are, the more developed his cognitive skills may be.

Since toddlers love one on one time with parents and family members, try to make it a priority to include a fun activity for at least 30 minutes each day. If 30 minutes is too much due to busy schedules, break it up into smaller chunks of time. Get the entire family involved in play to make your efforts at increasing your toddler's speech and language skills effective. Be sure to introduce your toddler to new vocabulary words, action words, and teach him or her about taking turns. This is how you can build your toddler's speech and language skills.

The first way to play with your toddler, and probably what comes to mind for most parents, is by playing with toys. Most children love to play with toys because they are fun and toys are something that he/she finds interesting. Just make sure the toys that your toddler plays with are age-appropriate.

Some age-appropriate educational toys for toddlers include stacking blocks, baby dolls, wooden peg puzzles, toy trains, and toy cars. There are a variety of words to target with these toys. Have your child repeat them or attempt to repeat them and make sure he/she understands them. Some of these words include: "up", "more" (when playing with stacking blocks), "eat", "drink" (when playing with baby dolls), "in", "out" (when playing with peg puzzles), "go", "stop" (when playing with toy trains and toy cars). While a Vtech Laptop is a really great educational toy for older children, it won't do much good for a toddler!

The second way to play with your child is through creative play. Children up to age three will benefit greatly from creative play. It can again involve toys or just imaginative play between you and your toddler. Examples of creative play include dressing up in costumes of your toddler's favorite characters, making up songs, and pretending you and your toddler are his/her favorite animals. Also, try to find toys and other items that can help. Use your imagination!

Keep in mind that in order to make it work you must make time to play with your toddler every day. Make activities fun and engaging. Sit down on the floor with him or her, play dress up, or play your child's favorite game. Most importantly remember to praise your toddler when he/she tries to communicate with you.

Rebecca Hawkins Haas, M.S., CCC-SLP, Toddler Speech-Language Pathologist, helps parents and caregivers of toddlers learn how to play with their children to help them talk and communicate faster. To get your FREE Toddler Speech and Language Kit, please visit [http://www.talkingwithtoddlers.com]http://www.talkingwithtoddlers.com.

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