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Games are in our bag of tricks

As your child’s Speech Therapists, we always show up with a bag full of games. Is it because we are all kids at heart? Yes, but also we know that kids will want to spend time with us, playing a favorite game. We sneak the therapy in while they are having fun. And as a parent, you can do the same except that you don’t need to try to teach anything. Focus on having fun and talking together; the benefits will take care of themselves.

Playing games to promote language

Games offer many opportunities for promoting language in a fun and relaxed way.

  • Keep in mind that finishing or playing a game properly isn’t the goal; it’s the interactions and conversation that matter.
  • Adapt the rules if necessary to make it simple enough for the child to have fun.
  • Part of the fun of games is the challenge, so it’s ok if your child is slightly uncomfortable, but not miserable.
  • Give them a chance to struggle a little, then step in with a reassuring but casual “Looks like you could use some help.”

Benefits of game playing

Most children love games, so it doesn’t feel like work and therefore, they are self-motivated. While they’re having fun, they’ll be learning skills that encourage language development, such as:

  • Cooperation
  • Turn-taking
  • Understanding rules
  • Following directions
  • Practice dealing with the frustration of losing

Choosing the right game

Err on the side of a game that is too easy. Your child will let you know if they are not having fun. Don’t assume it will be boring if it is too easy. All of us who play games in an educational setting have seen older kids who keep choosing something as simple as Candy Land because they enjoy some other aspect, such as one-on-one attention or the chance to spend time together.  And remember, for our purposes, the game is an excuse to talk together. Here are a few tips for picking a game:

  • If possible, let the child choose the game from a limited set of options.
  • When buying a new game, pay attention to the manufacturer’s suggested age. Remember, it’s for fun not a measure of achievement.
  • Check the playing time and set-up time too. If it isn’t listed on the box, you can find sites such as Board Game Geek that provide that information.

Feel free to ask your Speech Therapist for suggestions about particular games for your child. After all, that’s what we do!

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