Christmas gifts to develop a child’s communication skills
Play and language go hand in hand. Play is a way for children learn and be creative. Through play, children learn about the world around them. Playing with toys can help your child’s attention and listening skills, hand-eye coordination as well as their physical, social, emotional, speech and language development.
Here are some ideas when shopping for children this Christmas:
What: Dolls/Dolls House/Play Kitchen/Tea set/Toy Garage/Train set/Farm set
Why: Play gives you the opportunity to demonstrate sounds and words for your child. These games help your child to learn social interaction skills, by acting out play scenes with dolls or pretending to be a chef behind the kitchen, or a princess or a fireman.
How: You can help your child’s development of play and language skills by provide a running commentary of what is happening while playing. Keeping your sentences short and simple and using an animated and fun tone of voice. Point to and name the different objects (the cutlery, vehicles, animals and so on), colours, rooms. Demonstrate and name action words with the characters during play.
Attention & Eye contact
What: musical toys and instruments, Jack in the box, wind-up toys and bubbles.
Why: these toys can be helpful to improve a child’s eye contact and attention.
How: Switch on or wind up the toy and wait for your child to look at you before you start the music or let the toy go. You can also play these games using ‘ready, steady, go’ by waiting for your child to say ‘go’ before starting the toy again. Bubbles or balloons can be used too, by waiting for eye contact and ‘go’ before blowing the bubbles or blowing up the balloon.
Memory, attention & listening
What: Shopping game
Why: A shopping game can help improve your child’s memory, attention and listening skills which are vital for school, particularly for following instructions.
How: You can use real or toy groceries and a trolley or basket. Place objects in front of your child and name them. Give your child a shopping list of 2 – 3 items; give the instruction clearly and slowly and prompt your child to count the items on their fingers whilst repeating the list back to you.
What: Bowling/Basketball hoop/ Soccer games, boardgames, two player games
Why: These games help children to learn how to communicate or interact with others, to establish social skills, for example to share, wait and take turns.
How: Explain how the game works and demonstrate taking turns and sharing the items/toys. Children can have difficulty waiting and sharing so start with two player games where their turn comes frequently and then move up to group activities/games.
Tips when playing:
Children learn by example. Children learn words by hearing others use them. They learn what the word means by seeing the person point to or use the object they are talking about. Children respond by using the words themselves when they need to ask for that object, when they want you to look at it or to bring it to your attention. So, to help a child to understand words and, in turn, use words, we need to demonstrate the words clearly for them, using short, simple sentences, showing the child what we are naming or talking about with lots of repetition, and then some more repetition!
Repeat back any words that your child says;
Add an extra word or two to demonstrate what your child meant to say,
Give slight emphasis to any words/sounds in words that you child did not say clearly;
Praise your child for any attempts to make a sound or say a word, regardless of how clearly they have said it;
For example: a child says “dane”, adult responds “yes look, a train”;
Pointing to various objects/pictures and asking your child to name them, for instance “What’s that?”
Pointing to various objects/pictures and asking your child to say the word “say train.”
Saying a word and asking your child to repeat it after you “it’s a plate, say plate”.
Asking your child to say it again. Children typically say the words in the same way as they did the first time.
Correcting your child by telling them “no, it’s a train” or “no, not dane, train.”