If you’re a parent who leaves a therapy session wondering how to help your toddler when you get home, here are some tips on how to work on language through play!

1. Follow their lead

Whatever toy or activity they choose to play with at home, make sure you are intentional at playing along with them! You can use what we call “parallel talk” where you give words for what the child is doing (ex. Oh you are rolling the ball, you are walking the doll up up up the stairs!) If your child is using a few words, like “ball” you can build up their utterances by saying things like “oh you want the ball!  Let’s roll it.”

2. Work on requesting

One of our main goals for toddlers is working on asking for what they want or need and one of the best ways to do that is through play! If you know there is a toy that your child really wants to play with, you can place it out of their reach to motivate them to ask for it! You can work on pointing to request, using the signs “want”, “please” and incorporating real words as well.  You can also hold up two toys  and work on making a choice. Once they point to choose, you can work on having them verbalize the choice or model it (“you want play doh!”)

3.  Work on vocabulary

You can always work on vocabulary through play. Talking about colors, animals, people, actions and other objects are easy when playing with toys and activities! It’s always good to model the language for them as well as ask them questions, “what animal is this?”  “Is it a monkey or a lion?”

4. Types of toys

So many parents ask me what types of toys or activities would be good for them at home. I tell them it doesn’t matter too much as long as you are able to play along with them and the child is motivated by it! I love using books, puzzles, cause and effect toys, balls, play doh and play sets like dollhouses and cooking. You don’t have to feel like you need to go out and buy a bunch of toys that we use in therapy. You can often use the toys you already have at home. Singing songs and movement activities are also a great way to work on language as well, and the best part is that they’re free! I do recommend taking time away from technology when working with language unless it is an activity a parent has control over and can engage along with the child.

If you have any other questions about how to use toys at home to get your child talking never hesitate to ask your child’s speech language pathologist.

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