Episode 6: Developing Speech + Language with Play

A child is laying on the ground, smiling with paint on her face and hands after playing with finger paint. Getting speech and language development through play.

Developing Speech and Language Through Play

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On this episode of Play. Learn. Thrive., Nazli Blackwell, a pediatric speech and language pathologist shares her passion for Montessori as well as her expertise about how play intersects with language development in a child. She discusses the importance of playtime (not screen time) and references an interesting research study on how a child’s language affects an adult’s perception of their play. She also goes over what play looks like for children from zero to five and what sorts of toys are good at fostering the cognitive skills we want for our kids!

On this episode you learn

  • A bit about Nazli’s career as a speech and language pathologist and her personal experience with Montessori.
  • How speech and language development intersect with play, which is how children learn about the world.
  • Symbolic play: when children begin to think flexibly and creatively about objects.
  • The direct correlation between screen time, which is passive for a child, and playtime, which is active.
  • A research study on four groups of children and the role of language in free play. It was found that language makes a big difference in how we interpret a child’s play.
  • What parents can keep in mind and look for while observing their child’s play.
  • Toys that require children to problem-solve and develop cognitive skills.

Play is intricately connected to so many aspects of a child’s development and their speech and language development is no different! Nazli Blackwell, a speech and language pathologist, has a background in public schools as well as private practice and is passionate about early childhood and Montessori. As she mentions, speech and language are developed as children speak and read with their parents but also as they play! Play is how children learn about the world and their play directly involves language. 

Nazli talks about symbolic play, which is when children begin to think flexibly and creatively about objects, using one object to represent another. This begins at an early age, around one or two, and later develops into more complex play. These play sequences are the precursor to literary skills such as the ability to respond to a prompt and begin a storyline.

Having plenty of playtime is so essential to a child’s development! This is one of the reasons that screen time is discourage, since time in front of a screen simply takes away from the time that a child could spend in play.  

Nazli also shares about a research study done on four groups of children participating in free play. She discusses the role not only of language in play but also how play was interpreted by observers when they could hear child’s commentary versus when they couldn’t hear.

At the end of the episode, Nazli gets practical about what you as a parent can keep an eye out for in your child’s play and how you can foster cognitive skills. Make sure your two- to five-year-old is doing parallel play, engaging with other children around, and getting creative and flexible with their play and use of toys. And, last but not least, provide your little one with toys that require them to activate the use of the toy, encouraging problem-solving and the development of important cognitive skills!

Nazli’s Instagram: @themontessorislp

Nazli’s Email:  [email protected]

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