The coronavirus pandemic has had a profound impact on almost everything imaginable, including the oral language of more than 90,000 pupils in the UK. With this in mind, here are some of the ways that you can help to support your children or pupils’ developmental skills through play when targeted support is not as readily available as it has been previously.
Targeted creative play
Creative activities are great at helping children to develop their problem solving and critical thinking skills. When they explore with different toys they are provided with an opportunity to develop their understanding of the world around them and to question things that they experience.
For example, Lamborghini ride on cars can help children to develop not only their fine and gross motor skills, but their oral language skills too. By taking advantage of the child’s interests, you can encourage them to speak to you about what they’re doing, why they’re doing it and how they might adapt their play to better meet their needs or wants.
One of the key ways to nurture language development in children is by encouraging interaction between young people in the first place. Peer learning opportunities should be given as much as possible, including dedicated reading time.
Reading to children is an invaluable method for improving their language development. When children have the chance to listen to language they absorb the different methods of communication and the various forms of language that they’re being exposed to. Even if you can’t see any changes right away, you can rest assured that the child you’re reading to is taking in everything you’re saying.
Using puppets is a great way to encourage children to vocalise their emotions and invent their own conversations among themselves. Children often feel more confident with their oral language when communicating through the medium of toys, so providing puppets allow them to make up their own stories, practise different voices and act out a variety of scenarios.
In the same way that allowing children to make up stories helps them to use their words, rhymes and songs also encourages children to make use of their voices to communicate with one another. Children often learn patterns of language and vocabulary words when listening to and taking part in rhymes and songs. By making language fun, children are more likely to want to engage with it and will improve to a greater extent than if they were forced to copy out of a vocabulary book or equivalent.
The bottom-line is that language is scary – even for adults! Children should never be made to feel inferior or not enough because they’re struggling with their oral language skills. Use targeted play as much as possible with your children or pupils to help them with their language and communication whilst there is a shortage of specialist help available to them.
Yes, the pandemic has negatively impacted our lives, but equally, the lives of thousands of children have been turned upside down too. But with these ideas in mind, we can assist children in the areas of development that they may have missed out on during this uncertain time.