Parents often want to help promote the language skills their child is learning at school in their own home setting. But they often don’t know how or where to start.
There are many ways to get started by using toys that are available right at home! Two simple ways to start are through narration and imaginative play.
Narration while playing with a child is as simple as talking through each play interaction. And what’s more, in addition to play, it can be utilized during practically any activity.
Parents could play with a kitchen set, with cars and a racetrack, with a train set, with blocks, etc., and talk out loud about what they are doing. For example, “The train is leaving the station! Look how it drives around the tracks. Choo choo! Now it’s time for the train to make its first stop. Who’s getting on the train?”
This skill can also be used as a way to expand on any language a child does use. For example, whether with verbal speech, PECS, or a speech generating device, if the child says something like, “car drive,” the parent can say, “you’re right, the car does drive! The red car drives so fast, look at it zoom.” This expands on the language the child is already using to communicate, and models different ways to increase their sentence length and use more complex vocabulary.
Imaginative play is also a great way to encourage language use at home. This could be as simple as joining in with a child while playing with a baby doll, and pretending to be feeding and dressing the baby, or “playing house” which action figures or stuffed animals.
Children with autism sometimes gravitate towards playing by themselves without much peer interaction. While there isn’t anything wrong with that, demonstrating imaginative, collaborative play at home shows them how they can interact with peers, and how they can use language socially.
These are just two, easy ways to promote language development at home! They can be modified with any child’s favorite toy, game, or activity, and can really help to encourage use of the skills they work so hard on at school.