With the rise of video and computer games, we sometimes lose sight of how crucial good ol’ fashion playtime is for childhood development. Nancianne Chin, a Speech-Language Pathologist here at Canoe Therapy, is here to share the many ways that play helps children grow.
This past long weekend has been a wonderful time to witness parents taking their kids to parks, teaching them how to rollerblade, watch nature, and run around with friends. The speech-language pathologist in me just can’t help but very enthusiastically tell these parents; Great job! You’re helping your children learn to use language! Kids having opportunities to play is a very important component to supporting their language development. It’s as important as letting kids move to develop their physical strength and coordination.
When babies touch textures, sort shapes, and bang pots together, their young brains are noting the different elements of touch, sight and sound. They then learn the language that connects to all of these experiences; This cat is soft, this star twinkles and the banging that mommy calls ‘loud’ makes her laugh and cover her ears.
When children make believe, they are practicing the social scenarios they have heard in their environment for later use. ‘Thank you for coming to our tea party, ladies. Would you like me to pour you some tea?’
The new experiences that children encounter, such as a trip to Lego Land or a Splash Pad, are often verbally shared with other family members and friends at a later time. This sharing of information is called ‘story retell.’ Times spent sharing experiences may be fun, but it is also helping a child share relevant information in a sequential order to support listener comprehension. Parents supporting children with story retell are teaching them about what details are important, and how to organize events when sharing.
My own weekend was similar. The young people at my home had limited video game time. We taught them how to make sushi and ate together. New vocabulary learned included ‘wasabi’, ‘ginger’ and ‘nori’. I explained that outside of the home, it’s not socially appropriate to load up on wasabi and start banging on the table or exclaiming ‘Ugh!! It’s burning my nose!’ That is only okay at home. Also, it is likely an experience that will be shared with friends at a later time. Just as I’m sharing it now.