Play is your child’s way of experimenting and learning about the world. This includes their learning of new words. Play and interaction are important skills for your child to develop to enhance their learning.
By 1-2 years children will usually:
- Like being with familiar adults and watching adults
- Play alone or alongside others
- Respond to their name being called; look at an object or toy that an adult shows them
- Show you items they are interested in
- Enjoy some simple pretend play e.g. feeding dolly
- Imitate songs and actions with you
- Start to develop turn-taking, i.e. rolling a ball backwards and forth; an important skill in interaction
You can help by:
- Being face to face – getting down to your child’s level, e.g. on the floor, on your lap, crouch down, lying down. It makes it easier to see messages we are giving each other if we are face to face. It engages your child, shows your child you are interested and helps them to listen to you.
- Join in your child’s play- follow their lead; play with what your child is interested in, it is best to follow your child’s play ideas.
- When playing alongside your child, look at what your child is doing, and respond by copying their action and acknowledge what they say.
- It is important to talk about what your child is doing while playing, so that they learn what to say by hearing you e.g. ‘it a big cup’.
- Stop, look and listen – Don’t rush in, give your child a chance to communicate first. Observe and watch your child, looking for the little cues your child gives you however big or small before talking or acting. If you find this a struggle, count to ten. Even if you know what your child wants to say, don’t rush in, wait and listen to them.
- Reading books – Take turns to lift the flap and turn the page. Use facial expression and intonation to create anticipation
- Play with noise makers (shakers, drums, bells etc)
- Encourage your child to look and share an experience with you by playing ‘ready, steady, go’ games, with pop up toys or wind and go toys
- Take turns making sounds e.g. if your child bangs their drum, you bang yours
- Take turns to roll a ball to each other e.g mummy’s turn, Lily’s turn etc.
- Extend your child’s play skills by joining in their play, following what they are doing and gradually showing them how they make meaningful links in their s play e.g spoon in the cup, teddy on bed sleeping