Play is very important for the development of speech, language and communication skills. When you spend time talking and playing together, your child:

  • learns new words and phrases
  • develops conversation skills
  • develops social skills
  • learns to share and take turns
  • develops their listening skills
  • learns to make choices and express their preferences
  • develops their imagination as they take on a role and pretend to be someone else

How you can help

Get down to their level – playing with your child is easier if you are on the same level this might mean sitting or lying on the floor.

Be face to face – this allows your child to feel more connected to you and also makes it easier for them to see and learn from your facial expression, actions and words.

Join in the play – watch what your child is doing and show interest. Copy their actions, play with the same or a similar toy and use it like your child is using it.

Follow their lead – let your child choose the toy they want to play with and let them play with it in their own way. Try not to interfere or get them to do what you want to do!

Play, play and play again – if your child keeps going back to the same toy, that’s okay, this repetition helps them learn and gives you the opportunity to repeat words and phrases.

Be enthusiastic and use praise – show your child you are excited to play with them. Enthusiasm lets your child know you are enjoying your time with them.

Have screen time together – when you are watching television or playing electronic games together, talk about what you see, hear and are doing. Make sure that programmes, games and apps are recommended for children of your child’s age.

You are the best toy your child has and they love to spend time with you. No toy or electronic device, however expensive, will have the same positive impact on your child’s development.

Playing with your child gives you many opportunities to talk, talk, talk

When you play with your child:

  • name things
  • say what you see
  • comment on what you and they are doing, “my car is going under the bridge”,
  • leave space for your child to respond
  • expand upon their response