Ten Tips for Play To Help Your Child Talk

Welcome  to  Help Your Child Talk and Grow Smarter: this week’s extract from the SpeechContacts Kindle and your chance to learn more about the way your child learns to talk. 
Here are ten tips for playing with your child, helping him learn to talk through play.
  1. Observe your child: watch what he does and you’ll see how much he learns from every toy.
  2. Provide him with related items: spoons and plates, toothpaste and toothbrush, garage and cars. He’ll learn to put them together, beginning to find out how the world works.
  3. Play alongside him, so the two of you are having fun doing the things he wants to do.
  4. Give teddy bear tea parties with him as he practises ‘pretend’ play.
  5. Help to bath teddy and your toddler will soon learn the words for body parts.
  6. Dress a doll in her clothes, undress her and put her to bed, as you and your child name all her clothes and even tell her a bedtime story.
  7. Play with a toy telephone together, pretending to talk to granny. Or do it for real!
  8. Consider providing a doll’s house. Not cheap, but worth every penny for the hours of pretend play.
  9. Look at picture books together. The same ones, over and over, help him learn the words.
  10. Be patient and let him go at his own pace. It’s not a race. Give him opportunities and he’ll learn unbelievably fast.

If you like this, you may want to read the rest of this Kindle book. Download How To Help Your Child Talk and Grow Smarter in seconds for only £2.09


Help Your Child Talk; Boxes, Bricks and Play

Welcome to the latest extract from How To Help Your Child Talk and Grow Smarter: your chance to learn more about the way your child learns to talk.
If you’re a new reader, CLICK HERE to read How To Help Your Child Talk and Grow Smarter from the very beginning.This link takes you to the first post, so you can read the extracts in sequence. I try to post every Friday, by noon GMT.  

In recent weeks, we’ve been looking at the real importance of play for learning to talk. Play, after all, is the thing that toddlers do best. Learning to pretend in his play is one of your child’s ways of understanding symbols, getting ready for the highly complex way he’ll be using words and grammar to express his meaning before long. 
Here’s one of my favourite toys for helping your child to talk.
Play: stages
Remember that learning to symbolise is a sophisticated skill. Your child needs to go through the full sequence of development, in the right order, to learn about symbols. He needs to see, feel, hear, touch and taste real objects, finding out what they can do, before he plays with miniature people, houses and cars. 
He puts a few objects together in play, finding out that they’re still there even when he can’t see them and seeing how they relate to each other. Then he gradually advances to play sequences, where he can carry out whole teddy tea parties or pretend bath times. 
He can’t skip from the first exploratory stage to complicated play sequences, no matter how many times you show him, until he’s ready. 
His nervous system develops gradually. Remember that the pathways between the neurons in his brain are still developing fast in his first three years. He needs to repeat activities many times. At last the pathway becomes permanent through constant use, just like the path a cat wears in the garden from the door to her favourite sleeping quarters.

Play: your role

While your child investigates and experiments, your task is to encourage his play and offer him opportunities to develop to the next stage. Let him take his time. Think of yourself as a facilitator or helper, offering opportunities not lessons, and be guided by the things he enjoys. Be prepared to observe him, provide what he needs and play with him.

Join in with him. Give him opportunities to extend his play. Recognise that he’s constantly learning. As he pours water into a jar, he learns about volume, fluids and size. Use the words “water”, “pour” and “big” or “small” as you play with him.   

When he starts to play with two objects together, at around a year old, you can help by offering boxes to put things in and bricks to build up. Let him bang his spoon on the (plastic) plate and rattle it in the cup. You can clean up the mess later.

Enjoy doll’s tea parties together, bath teddy and dress him before putting him to bed. Build up play sequences. Introduce smaller toys and less obvious representations of the real thing, such as Duplo characters. 

Match toys to pictures in books, saying ‘Look, shoes like yours,’ pointing at the picture, then at your child’s shoes.

Play activities: Teddy’s tea party
Spend time setting out a tea table. If you can get hold of a table and chairs that are a suitable size for Teddy to sit on, they’re ideal. Otherwise, use the family dining table, or a child – sized table. Include places for Teddy along with one or two other toys. Set the table with plates, spoons, cups, saucers, teapots, milk jugs and play food if you have it, and sit Teddy and his friends on their chairs. 
Let your child play happily with the tea things, and join in with him. Offer Teddy a drink, and suggest your child offers a drink to another toy, or some pretend food. Use simple language, such as “Teddy’s hungry”, “Teddy’s drinking”, “give Teddy a biscuit”. 

Try making a pretend cup of tea by “pouring” from the teapot and milk jug into the cups, and stirring with a spoon.  As he grows, your child will join with longer sequences.





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Help Your Child Talk: Language and Pretend Play

Here’s extract 19 from How To Help Your Child Talk and Grow Smarter: your chance to learn more about the way your child learns to talk.
If you’re a new reader, CLICK HERE to read How To Help Your Child Talk and Grow Smarter from the very beginning.This link takes you to the first post, so you can read the extracts in sequence. I try to post every Friday, by noon GMT.
Language and pretend play
Language is a system of symbols; a mix of sounds, gestures and marks that we put together according to commonly agreed sets of rules, and that we use to encode and decode information. 
You use language labels to describe activities because it helps you to think about them in an organised way. You label things to make sense of life. It takes your child a long time to learn to talk, because language is one of the highest level activities he learns.
Your child gradually learns that language is useful, because it helps him get what he needs, ask for things he wants, complain when he can’t have what he wants, tell you when something hurts, and where it hurts. Later, he’ll use language to exchange more complex information, even to tell jokes.

Your child spends much of his time playing.

Play is what he does. He enjoys it. He likes finding out new things, discovering how things move, what they feel like, how they smell and sound. The more he enjoys his activities, the better he learns. 

Through his play,from investigating by putting objects in his mouth, through to pretending to give his teddy a drink, he learns the role that toys, pictures, gestures and words have in helping him communicate.

Play: representation
When your toddler offers you a cup of pretend tea from a miniature cup, and you pretend to drink it, nobody’s fooled. He knows as well as you do there is no ‘real’ tea in the cup. What’s more, he knows you know. 


The toy cup represents a real cup of tea, and the situation represents a real-life action he knows well. It represents, or symbolises, one person giving a cup of tea to another.


A picture of a cup, the word ‘cup’ and a hand sign for ‘cup’ are all symbols that stands for a real cup, just as his toy cup does. 

Your baby and toddler gradually, over many months, learns to develop his understanding of symbols. He begins with real objects. He uses his five senses: sight, hearing, touch, taste and smell, to learn everything he can about these. 

Next, he recognises the relationship between a toy and the real thing, before he learns how a picture or a physical sign, such as waving bye-bye, can represent an object or action. 

Finally, he learns the words: the labels that also symbolise the real object.  When he reaches school age, he moves on to recognising letters and numbers, and how they symbolise less concrete, more abstract ideas. Pretend play is part of the process.   

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Learning to talk is child’s play

Watching children play is such fun. They love to offer pretend cups of tea, or bath teddy and put him to bed. It’s even more fun to join in, and the great thing is that you’re helping them learn to talk.


Pretending is so important to a child’s developing language skills. There’s good reason for this.


Language is a set of symbols
When your toddler offers you a cup of pretend tea from a miniature cup, and you pretend to drink it, nobody is fooled. He knows as well as you do that there is no real tea in the cup. What’s more, he knows you know.


The cup represents or symbolizes a real cup of tea.


The word cup is a symbol that stands for a real cup, just as the toy cup does. Toys are symbols, so are pictures and so and words.


Although language is something that most of us learn easily, in fact it’s a very sophisticated system of symbols. A word stands for something, just as a doll stands for a person and a picture of a toy car stands for a real car.


When you think of it like that, it’s amazing that any of us learn to talk at all: never mind reading or writing.


We can help
Parents and grandparents can really help a baby learn about symbols.


The learning starts as he concentrates on one toy, staring at it, feeling it, sucking it. He doesn’t need a cot full of stuff at this stage. He can only think about one thing at a time.


When he loses interest, offer him something else. This makes sure he isn’t bombarded with too many things at once.


Then he starts to play with two things at a time, putting bricks in boxes and banging his rattle on his cot. This is the next step on the journey to language.


Soon you’ll start to see real ‘pretending’ as he uses a toy teacup to pretend to drink. At first he pretends to drink himself or offers a drink to you, but then he’ll offer a drink to teddy.


Now you can see that teddy is like a real person to him. He might kiss him, wash him, and out him to bed.


Here’s where grownups really come into their own. This kind of play is for anyone. Even uncles who claim ‘I don’t know how to talk to children’ enjoy tea parties, dressing doll games and pretending to bath teddy and put him to bed.


If you’d like to read more about language and communication skills, check out How To Help Your Child Talk and Grow Smarter, our Amazon Kindle eBook (you can also read it on iPhone, iPad, PC, Mac…     BUY NOW for only £5.66.