Now that summer has arrived, kids are spending more time playing and less time learning…or so they think. In fact, children acquire a variety of important skills through play. They engage their sensory systems, strengthen their problem solving skills, develop their imaginations, and improve their physical strength. As if that weren’t enough, kids also learn a variety of language and social communication skills through play.
If you don’t have the time or the energy to come up with creative play ideas for your kids this summer, don’t worry! Board games are an easy way to naturally incorporate language and social skills into your children’s leisure time.
There are opportunities for language learning during every turn of a board game. The youngest players can learn simple counting, shapes, colors, prepositions, and early concepts (boy/girl, in/out, big/little, etc.) Older children are exposed to more advanced concepts, as well as descriptive language, temporal concepts, pronouns, syntax, and morphology. Kids of all ages can practice asking/answering questions and making comments.
Social communication, too, is necessary while playing board games. Negotiation skills play a huge part, especially in the beginning. Kids need to decide what game to play, who gets to be what character/color pawn, and who gets to go first. During game play, turn taking is a crucial skill. When the game is over, kids get a chance to practice sportsmanship and emotional regulation. Throughout the entire process, kids use eye contact, joint attention, theory of mind, and non-verbal communication.
Check out these games (hint: nothing high-tech needed…classic games are the best!) for easy ways to incorporate language learning into free time:
•Candy Land: colors, counting
•Apples to Apples: comparisons, descriptions
•Chutes and Ladders: up/down, pronouns
•Jenga: on/off, push/pull, prepositions
•Battleship: numbers, letters, past tense verbs
•Connect Four: prepositions, theory of mind
•Guess Who: asking questions, descriptions
•Headbandz: categorization, asking questions
For more tips related to language development and social communication skills visit our Facebook page. If you’d like to speak with a licensed and certified speech-language pathologist, contact The Speech Studio at (914) 893–2223 or check out our website.