Why are you only playing
with my child?
Rogers Bridge » Why are you only playing with my child?
"Children need the freedom and time to play. Play is not a luxury. Play is a necessity."
–Kay Redfield Jamison
As an early intervention speech language pathologist, I am typically one of the first people to provide therapy to a child. What we work on first will depend on the child’s level. Since my patients are very young, we do a lot of play-based activities. While some families understand the importance of play skills, some families do not. I frequently hear, “Why are you only playing with my child?”
There are several preconceived ideas of what speech therapy should look like. A lot of times families expect me to sit at the table with their child and “work.” People may see us as working only if we are using flashcards or looking at a book. While I do have flashcards and frequently use books, I do not limit the therapy session to only this type of “work.”
While some parents may think that “just playing” with their child isn’t effective, therapists realize the importance of play and know that playing accomplishes so much more than many people realize.
Play-based therapy is highly effective and is more likely to result in progress. This type of intervention keeps a child motivated and a motivated child will want to continue participating in the activity. Motivation and participation are always key if we want a child to learn a new skill.
You may have heard the phrase, “Play is the work of a child.” Children learn so many skills when “just playing.” Many skills are developed and refined while playing.
Skills learned by playing, like the 6 benefits I have listed below, will eventually lead to more complex and difficult skills as children grow.
6 Benefits of Play Based Therapy
Improving attention and ability to complete tasks
To be successful in school and as an adult, you need to focus during lectures or while on the job. Completion of tasks is an essential life skill and can be as varied as washing your clothes to finishing a project on time at work.
Building positive interactions with others
Not only does play build positive interactions with others, but it is also the start of understanding the many nuances of socialization and how to communicate with others effectively.
Increasing vocabulary and use of words
During play, a child is usually happy and motivated. They are exploring and enjoying themselves. Children are more likely to make a connection to a new word, and eventually use the word, when they are happy and motivated by that word/activity.
Learning how objects work
Children learn how objects are used through observation and exploration. During play, they can explore and experiment with different items and learn how they work.
Learning cause and effect
Cause and effect are the relationship between two events. Recognizing cause and effect starts simply with a baby crying and then being fed. The child learns that their cry signals to their caregiver that something is needed. When children are exploring during play, they learn cause and effect by stacking objects in a different way to keep them from falling. This can lead them to using words to request items, and learning which actions give them praise and which actions have negative consequences.
Learning more complex turn-taking skills
The simplest version of turn-taking starts with eye-gaze as a baby. As a baby grows and develops, so does the complexity of turn-taking. Eventually, this leads to turn-taking during games/activities to turn-taking during conversations.
There are many different approaches that are used during therapy. While play-based is mostly used for toddlers, it can be used for school age children as well. Our goal is to engage the child so that they want to come to speech therapy and put in the effort it takes to make progress. We don’t just want them to learn a skill. We want them to thrive.
If you are concerned about your child’s speech and language development, give us a call. We offer free phone consultations to help you determine if a speech language evaluation is appropriate for your child.
"Jessie is such a loving and caring therapist. Her passion for helping her patients and families show every visit. She is open to what works for each patient while being effective and productive. She is responsive and able to adapt to her patient's moods. Speech therapy has never been my son's favorite, and he has been to known to be a bit difficult, but it never slowed Jessie down. She was always so loving and made the sessions fun for him. I would recommend her to anyone looking for a great therapist." – Belinda