How To Play With Toddler

Improve Speech and Language Skills

Here you will find tips on how to play with toddler while encouraging speech and language development!  

Do you have a late talker? Do you have a family history of speech and language disorders? If so, you are at the right place! These play tips are strategies I use during speech therapy for toddlers all the time.

You can TRULY help prevent and improve your child’s speech by HOW you play with your toddler

5 Simple Tips

1. Get Down On the Floor

How to play with toddler...get down on the floor! Getting down on the floor means sitting, crawling, and rolling around on the floor. Make sure you are on the same level as your child, not above.

This may seem like an obvious one but many parents observe their children from a chair and make a comment here and there, instead of actually playing, laughing, and having fun with their child.

Why Do This? When your child can see your face, he/she picks up on visual cues on how to say sounds. Children also listen and learn better when they are naturally talking while playing within their little world. Last, when you are at the level of your child, you have their full attention. Make sure you are talking to your child the correct way while you play. Yes, there is a right and wrong way :)!

2. Follow Your Child's Lead

I will mention this quite a bit throughout this website but there is good reason for it.

At this age, children learn BEST when they are happily playing since it is meaningful and relevant. We all (children and adults) learn best when information is motivating, meaningful and relevant.

For example, a child will learn the word "dog" faster when he is at a park petting a dog, running after the dog, and calling for the dog. Looking at flashcards of a dog and repeating the word "dog" when your parents say ...."say dog" is not nearly as relevant or meaningful. 

Build learning into whatever your child is already HAPPILY doing by following their lead.

Why Do This? As I explained above, toddlers learn faster from meaningful play in their natural environments. Also, when skills are learned this way, children retain the learned information better.

3. Get Creative, Imaginative, & Dirty

How to play with toddler? Play imaginative games! Toys are just props. A block can be a block but it also can be an apple, rocket ship, or a house. Get creative!

Get lost in the moment while playing. Don't watch the clock or worry about getting dirty. Worry about having fun with your toddler!

Why Do This? Being creative will help language and cognitive development and save money on buying tons of toys. Check out our free language ideas here using things around the house. 

4. Talk With A Purpose 

While you play with your toddler, talk with a purpose. Don't just name toys or pictures while your child plays. Instead, describe toys, talk about what they do, and what they look like.

For example, if your child says "dog." Weave in phrases such as: "yes, dog. A dog is an animal. It's a pet. A dog barks, ruff."

Why do this? This helps build word knowledge and vocabulary development. Vocabulary is more than simply knowing words. We must understand the whole concept of a word (category, function, use, description) to properly understand it and relate it to new information.

Vocabulary development is the foundation for listening, speaking, reading, and writing abilities. 

Convinced yet?!

Click here for MORE tips on how to best talk to your child

5. Listen and Respond While Playing

Listen and respond while playing, don't quiz! While it is great to weave language learning into play, remember that you are having fun. 

We all want our children to learn and grow. Out of good intention, I see parents asking their children question after question and sometimes not even waiting for a response. This is NOT play! 

While your child is playing, listen, really listen.  Take what he or she is saying seriously and respond appropriately. 

Why Do this? Too many questions can be overwhelming and counterproductive. Play may start to seem like work and children may be turned off from play. We don't want this! Learn how to ask questions the right way in our membership program.

What Toys Should I Have?

Know how to play with toddler is important but having the right toys is equally as important.

Click here for my toy recommendations and quick tips on how to play with toddler to develop speech and language skills.

Want more free tips, join us!

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Bridget is an ASHA certified, practicing speech language pathologist. She is passionate about providing parents with information on child speech and language development as well as provide functional, easy activities to do at home! Parents have the power to make a real difference.

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