Things I Love

Dramatic Play and Helping My Toddler Acquire Expressive Language Skills

My two-, almost three-, year-old toddler has a language delay and I have been working with him (along with the help of a speech teacher) since February of this year to help him with his expressive language skills.

Generally, a child his age would be using two or more words to create phrases that help them express their wants and needs. Before starting speech therapy and really being intentional about creating scenarios where he had to express his wants, my son was only repeating words or labeling (very few) items. He is now stringing two or three words together to express himself in most situations. I still have a difficult time understanding him, but we are headed in the right direction.

One of the things we do a few times a week is engage in dramatic play. I will either take him to the library to play in the pretend kitchen or we will dress up at home and create scenarios for our pretend play. During this pretend play, we do lots of talking. We label items and I use phrases that he would likely need to learn to communicate with me and others. His favorite thing to do is play in the kitchen and dress up like a fireman. Kitchen play allows us to practice phrases used during preparing, serving, requesting, and eating meals. Not only do we get to practice key phrases, but we also get to act out various scenarios like making coffee or setting the dinner table.

The skills learned through dramatic play are numerous and the thing about dramatic play is it can be as fancy or as simple as you would like. You can use just about anything to pretend so, if you haven’t played in this way with your littles before, it’s easy to begin right now.