In a previous post, we explored how play can help children develop skills necessary for logical and mathematical thought. Play is also immensely beneficial when it comes to developing communication skills. Both oral and written communication are essential life skills children must adopt and advance in order to succeed in school and adult life. Creating an environment centered around play that facilitates the explicit development of such skills enables the organic development of interpersonal skills.
From an early age, children are apt to mimic those around them. They observe the gestures and behaviors that accompany the words you speak, often noting the order in which you speak them, as well. Imitation emerges through exploratory play as children attempt to make sense of their world by replicating, in pieces, what they have observed. In imaginative scenarios where children adopt roles, set scenes, and create plot, conflict, and resolution, they often utilize oral speech to facilitate their decisions.
Learning the names of nouns like objects or colors on paper is one thing, but integrating that knowledge into play allows children to fully commit this information to memory. This adoption of new words, sentence structures, figurative language, and more is further enhanced by adults (typically parents and teachers who oversee playtime) who volunteer information; naming items as they use them, emphasizing pronunciation, and spelling words while speaking them are a few ways adults can positively influence the language capacity of playing children.
Reading to children and, when they are ready, allowing them to read along with you is also a beneficial method of providing a foundation for their language skills. Encouraging interaction and replication through play can make the process enjoyable and productive when it comes to improving a child’s literacy and communication skills.
Though empathy may not be regarded as an essential “skill,” it is important for children to understand, recognize, and demonstrate when interacting with others. The words adults use around children can inadvertently influence their attitudes as well as their relations with others. Once again, children tend to mimic the adults in their lives, so displaying kind behaviors and oral sentiments can encourage children to do the same.
In play, children learn to communicate with others in productive ways; depending on the imaginary scenario, a child may ask the opinion of another child in order to solve a problem, demonstrating a willingness to consider the thoughts and feelings of others. Play permits children to connect with each other in creative, productive ways, allowing them to positively engage with individuals who may come from different backgrounds or have different experiences.
Through play, children are able to naturally grow their vocabulary, improve their linguistic abilities, and better relate to one another. Play is an essential part of a child’s education, and as the development of strong communication skills has become a necessity, focusing on activities which promote interaction is more important now than ever.