The Role of Play & Leisure Activities in Cognitive Speech Therapy for Children

The Role of Play & Leisure Activities in Cognitive Speech Therapy for Children

Play skills are incredibly important when it comes to speech and language development among children. Play and leisure activities provide some of the earliest opportunities for a child to learn and develop their social skills and form significant relationships. A play-based approach in speech therapy serves the long-term development of higher-level language functions as the child grows. 

At Great Speech, our speech and language pathologists are experts when it comes to working with children and making the process fun, and encouraging the development of their communication skills. Getting your child started with speech therapy is as easy as scheduling your free introductory call today! 

Why are Play Skills Important for Speech and Language?

Play provides children with opportunities to navigate and react to their environments. Play skills and leisure activities are also fundamental elements for the development of more advanced speech and language processes, such as conversational and problem-solving skills. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, play is essential to development as it contributes to the cognitive, physical, social, and emotional well-being of all children. Various forms of play contribute to the development of many different language functions, and these skills are typically acquired hierarchically. 

What is Play-Based Speech and Language Therapy?

Play-Based speech and language therapy is a type of treatment that is delivered in a way that is playful and natural for children of all ages. The alternative to play-based therapy involves the use of ‘drills’, in which the child is required to continue repeating a specific target sound until they have mastered it, which is much less motivating and effective for children. The fundamental characteristics of play are used to optimize treatment and achieve higher levels of engagement, effectiveness, and motivation. Play-based speech therapy also supports the child’s social and emotional needs as well as ensures that the newly learned skills are maintained and integrated into their daily activities.

If you want to learn more about play-based speech therapy and whether it is right for your child, contact us to schedule your free introductory call today! 

What are the Different Forms of Play

Exploratory – Exploratory play is widely considered the primary level in which a child uses their play skills. In general, during this stage, play skills are used by children to explore and discover toys and objects through the use of their senses. You may have heard about a baby first “finding their feet!” This is a type of exploratory play. During this time, children are developing an understanding that the objects (or body parts) around them serve a specific function. This type of play also contributes to an early understanding of cause and effect. 

Relational & Functional – Relational play refers to when a child uses two or more items to play with together, such as playing with a bowl and a spoon while pretending to eat or stacking two cups on top of each other. Functional play also involves these skills; but it also awareness of the child’s surroundings, which allows them to observe and imitate others. For example, when a parent picks up a toothbrush to brush their teeth, the child may also pick up a toothbrush and attempt to brush their teeth as well.

Symbolic Symbolic play is widely regarded as one of the biggest stepping stones towards advanced interactions with others. This type of play is also sometimes referred to as pretend play and may include using a pretend kitchen set to prepare a meal or putting a banana up to one’s ear (known as object substitution), and pretending to use it as a phone. Pretend play promotes growth in the following developmental language areas:

  • Imaginative Exploration and Thinking
  • Abstract Thinking
  • Problem-Solving
  • Daily Life Skills
  • Self-Confidence and Increased Self-Esteem
  • Leadership Skills
  • Social & Communication Skills development
  • Understanding of Safety Concerns and Precautions

How do Play and Leisure Contribute to Cognitive Development?

Play during Speech Therapy typically involves introducing activities that are enjoyable for children while also providing a safe and comfortable learning environment where they can develop at their own pace. Play-Based Speech Therapy effectively capitalizes on a child’s innate curiosity, as well as their interest in learning new skills, and increases excitement around learning. In addition, it provides each child with a higher degree of confidence in their ability to learn, acquire new skills, and communicate effectively.

One of the key principles of Play-Based Speech Therapy for children is to provide opportunities to practice turn-taking by offering the child chances to be the leader, which in turn encourages them to use their new skills with increased independence. The speech therapist’s role is to appropriately respond, model, and expand on the child’s efforts and contributions, as well as prompt them to use their newly acquired skills both functionally and independently.

Play in Virtual Speech Therapy 

Given that online technology already possesses a strong appeal to most children, teachers, parents, and professionals, bringing speech therapy to our online platform increases the impact of a play-based approach. Some of the aspects that make Telepractice Speech Therapy particularly innovative and beneficial are:

Quality – Telepractice speech therapy resources are characterized by the use of high-quality images, sounds, and content, which sets the stage for capturing and holding the child’s interests separate from their needs and abilities.

Variety & Novelty – Activities and games within virtual speech therapy are constantly being upgraded, improved, and added. Because these activities live on a custom-made online platform, endless choices can be offered virtually and can cover a wide range of topics, with each exercise or activity supporting the objectives and goals that were set in collaboration with the child and their caregivers.

Personalization – Online speech therapy content can be completely customized according to each child’s needs, interests, and preferences. This means that the presentation, delivery, and selection of games and activities can be fully adapted to meet the child’s needs and work toward their goals. 

Concentration & Attention – Play-based games and exercises are created to maintain the child’s attention and interest through their interactive features. Virtual play-based speech therapy also means less wait time relative to real-life scenarios, making appointments run more smoothly and efficiently. 

Feedback & Rewards – Feedback, constructive criticisms, and rewards can be provided immediately and the child can have more input into what these rewards will be. In addition, the speech therapist has control over the games as well as how their video is displayed which can significantly improve the child’s concentration and attention to the task at hand.

If you want to learn more about play-based speech therapy and its benefits, or simply want to get your child started with virtual speech therapy, contact us and schedule your free introductory call today!