Each fall, we receive tons of leaflets, brochures and catalogue that advertise new toys and games. In the past years, technology has been progressing and appeal to young and big kids enough to make their parents life harder. Fortunately, we can write a letter to Santa and make a few suggestions that will amaze our children!
Hurray for technology!
Many parents are worried about this appeal for anything IT and what children want does not always match our family values or our budget. Also, studies are formal, technology is nice but it will never replace the time spent playing with children. My personal and professional experience led me to believe that children should be aware of the technological progresses. Without making it a societal debate, we cannot deny how much fun it is to play on a tablet and use a joystick. It is also essential for a child to understand a few principles to be able to use the computers, white boards and tablets used in school.
Advocating for technology
I personally prefer board games. Being a speech therapist, speaking skills are very important to me and I strongly believe that a child’s development happens through games that involve child-child and parent-child interactions. Furthermore, theses games encourage children to socialize. To confirm my personal and professional assumptions, I consulted several studies1, books and documents and it all boils down to the fact that playing is serious business. A child who plays and with whom we play has better chances to succeed in school2. Also, initiating your child to reading is an excellent preparation. Finally, there is a link between the development of speech at a very young age and the way a child will cope with school. These are all good reasons to guide his choices.
What is language again?
The anatomy of language is complex. Sometimes we listen and understand; sometimes it is our turn to speak. We can choose and understand sounds, vocabulary, sentences and communication rules. We learn abstract notions such as colors, numbers, up, down, far, seasons, time, opposites, categories (like fruits, furniture, transportation), characteristics (warm, open, big).
Your child learns a bit from each aspect as he grows and the better his performances are, the better he gets to describe, explain and tell. Everything he learns in order to speak before school will be handy when he will learn to read and write. In order to learn, he must also know how to listen, wait for his turn to speak, make the difference between noise and sounds, understand the instructions, rules and develop abilities like observation, visual memory and auditory memory.
You will notice that most games allow your child to learn all these notions or develop abilities to communicate with others. For these reasons, choosing games that focus on an aspect of speech could be beneficial.
A game for every aspect of language
Of course, all games are not equal and don’t necessarily improve language development. Also, the rules are not specific on how to talk to your child during the game so here are a few examples to help you help them based on aspects that need improvement.
General communication, telling or explaining
- pretend toys: kitchen, tool box, dolls, trucks, road carpets;
- games to invent stories: image cards to invent stories, suites or sequences of actions.
Vocabulary develops when naming images but also through classification activities, contraries identification, association and many others.
- memory games with objects;
- games (like bingo) that regroup various images of the same category on one card;
- domino games where you must associate two images that are used together (brush and paint bucket, for example);
- images to find in a bigger picture.