A parent, caregiver or teacher can play a very important role in developing tailor-made learning activities at home, which can be through play, storytelling, rhymes, dramatisations and creative activities. There are many effective play activities to promote holistic development and learning communication skills in children.
The parent, caregiver or teacher can in fact cleverly use their skills in planning activities, progressing slowly from simple to complex, and taking care that the activities are developmentally appropriate. They can also act as a support, a pillar and a guide in their child’s learning process.
In this article:
- The Three Developmental Stages of Play and Communication
- Parents’ Role in Promoting Language and Communication Skills
- The Importance of Free Conversations
- Play Activities to Promote Holistic Development and Learning Communication Skills
The Three Developmental Stages of Play and Communication
The following are the three important developmental stages of play and communication in a child.
The sensory motor experiences that occur during infancy leads to development of skill, which usually occurs when the infant is at play. Skills are learned when the infant is using play objects or waving arms crying and so on.
All these skills helps the infant understand the cause-effect relationships. Infants usually engage in nonverbal communication with their play partners.
Engaging eye gaze, facial expressions, smiles cooing, babbling and appropriate responses from others to these gestures helps an infant understand the skill of communication. This in turn lays the foundation for later social skill development.
As development progresses it’s very important to engage children in positive and educational play experiences. The development in language skills can impact the child’s play skills. Toddlers imitate the language and behaviours of others and involve in make-believe play. Simple ball games can be an important tool for developing communication skills.
Pre-schoolers engage in more complex games and make-believe play, because the growth and development in language and cognitive skills is becoming more complex. Complex make-believe play and simple board games enhances communication skills in children.
Parents’ Role in Promoting Language and Communication Skills
Children’s behaviours always have a play element from finger plays to movement games, building blocks and other active physical play. However, the type of play that has a great effect on a child’s language and communication skills is dramatic play.
Some of the characteristics of dramatic play that can provide best opportunities for children to improve language can be by using variety of props and objects, combining two or three rules and themes and creating a pretend scenario.
Parents can help children raise their level of play by helping them to see multiple use of props, creating new props, exposing children to new themes, helping in planning play and choosing playmates for different roles (siblings or neighbour’s child) can help enhance communication skills.
Using props imaginatively, learning symbolic representation, expanding on the play themes, reading and sharing books, planning for the right place to play and creating play rich environments are a few more aspects that a parent, caregiver or teacher can use to enhance communication skills.
The Importance of Free Conversations
Free conversations help children to:
- Build and extend vocabulary
- Learn to communicate clearly and accurately
- Provide opportunities to learn new concepts and skills
- Communicate feelings and ideas verbally and effectively
A parent should leverage the three key elements of conversation to actively listen to what a child says, physically get down to the level of the child, match the tone and feelings with the child and promote exchange of conversations.
The 3 Key Elements of Free Conversations
The 3 key elements of free conversations are:
- Comment: Comment and wait for a child to respond
- Ask: Ask questions and wait again
- Respond: Respond by adding more to the conversations and wait for the child’s response
Free conversations can be initiated at any time, including snack time and lunch. With very small adjustments at home, the parent, caregiver or teacher can provide enriching experiences for improving language and communication skills of children.
Play Activities to Promote Holistic Development and Learning Communication Skills
Through communication, these play activities can in fact teach the concept of math, science and colours, among others.
1. Picture Talk
Find some interesting pictures and give it to your child. Allow your child to talk about the picture that he/she has got. Help your child elaborate on the familiar colours, animals and things in the picture and discuss the unfamiliar ones in a free conversation.
2. Story Round
Start narrating a random story. Stop at a very interesting point and encourage your child to continue the story. Observe how interesting the story can turn into and have a small discussion about the same with your child.
This activity is possibly one of the most powerful play activities to promote holistic development and learning communication skills in your child. If you play this activity adequate number of time, chances are that you will often be amazed by the creative way your child weaved a story from where you left.
Animal concepts can be introduced with this interesting activity. Tell your child to imagine being on a trip to the zoo and that he/she has to imitate the animals that are usually seen in the zoo.
Ask your little one to identify the animals as well and make sounds of animals. Introduce new animals’ names through this activity. You can bring in variations depending upon the age of your child.
4. Fun in the Kitchen
Take your child to the kitchen corner, where the concept of sounds of foods can be introduced. For example chop a fruit or vegetable and ask your little one to identify the sound. Introduce as many fruits and vegetables you can and ask to describe the food, its colour, taste and so on.
Play is a very essential aspect of a child’s development. Play is the way by which children sense the world around them. The play activities to promote holistic development and learning communications skills discussed above helps particularly during the infancy and early childhood years.
Play is in fact a dynamic and a lifelong process. When parents, caregivers and teachers engage in play activities with children, opportunity is being provided for the child to facilitate and enhance growth of skills in all the areas of development.
Disclaimer: The content in this page and across this website are for informational and educational purposes only. In case of any concerns about your child’s growth and development, please contact your professional child healthcare provider.