Play is a powerful vehicle for learning in the early childhood years and a critical source for expanding cognitive, language, motor and play skills. Play is an activity that children do naturally at home, at school and in the community, as it is highly motivating and fun! For these reasons, Chatterboxes SLP’s feel that play is an ideal platform for speech and language therapy for young children.
Play-based therapy is a model of intervention that targets speech and language objectives within the context of play. Therapeutic play, such as this, is characterized by the use of toys and play scenarios within the context of play. Therapy occurs in a natural context, which often facilitates increased generalization of speech and language skills. Play-based therapy is often times less structured than other more standard approaches, and requires creative and flexible thinking on behalf of the SLP (Speech-Language Pathologist). It’s these quick thinking SLP’s that truly make play-based therapy a success for kids, as they transform arising play scenarios into learning experiences.
The following example of Play-Based Speech & Language Therapy can be illustrated via a previous session with a child whom we’ll call Tommy: (Note: One of Tommy’s Speech-Language Goals is to begin to use the pronoun “I” in connected speech).
First, Tommy chooses a toy from those available in the SLP’s room. Today, Tommy chooses the Farm Set. Tommy, a creative and playful boy, who loves pretend play takes the lead. He implies that all of the farm animals want to play in the mud! The SLP sees an instant opportunity to target Tommy’s goal of using the pronoun, “I.”
The SLP notes, “All the animals are going to take turns jumping into the mud!” From here, the child and SLP say with great animation, “I jump in the mud!!” as each animal independently jumps into the mud. The animals love playing in the mud and, the SLP explains, “OH NO! The animals are so dirty; They need to take a bath!” As each animal gets in the bathtub he says, “I take a bath!” or “I need soap!” and then “I dry off!”
Aside from using the the pronoun “I” in the context of the play-sequence, the child is learning to take turns, (a precursor to conversational skills), while using imagination and higher levels of thought processes.
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Such a play-based scenario promotes carryover of skills learned in therapy to everyday life.