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Speech-Language Stimulation Through Play


Play is a voluntary and a fun activity for children. Play is important for children to learn using speech and language. During play, children express their ideas, emotion and thoughts. Play skills is a part of pre-verbal skills.

Children with difficulty in play are usually:

  • Children with mental disorders
  • Children with physical disability
  • Children with visual impairment
  • Children with perceptual difficulties
  • Children with emotional and behavioral problems
  • Children that has less chance to play
  • Children with speech-language disorders

There are 3 types of play:

  • Functional play
  • Constructive play
  • Pretend play

Functional Play

Children explore the function of the objects or equipment, the properties of the materials. Children explore and experimenting with the objects by pulling, shaking or beating. Besides exploring objects and materials, children also exploring their environment by climbing and running.

Constructive Play

Constructive play is when the children build something by first, plan in his head. Constructive play occurs when the children build castle from sands and tower from blocks. Children need to plan in their mind to play this type of play.

Pretend Play

This type of play requires imagination. Children imagine that they are doctors or a mother. Imitation, sensory-motor and cognitive skills are important in pretend play so the child is able to involve in the activity.

Tips in ‘play’ for children speech development

Talk when you are playing with your child. Communication during play is important to stimulate speech and language development in your child. Use simple language, attracting voice and choose appropriate toys according to their age and use a suitable area to play.  Engage with your child by talking with them during play.

  • Activity should match your child’s ability and development. Identify activity that suits your child development. Games or toys can be modified if your child has disabilities.
  • Toys or objects used must be suitable with your child age.
  • Identify your child interest and use it as a tool to entice your child to play
  • You have to make sure that verbal instruction given to your child is understood and age appropriate. Use simple word and sentences.
  • Teach your child basic skills first than steadily introduce new skills.
  • Show what you want to teach to your child. If your child had difficulty to imitate the action, help child to do the action. Example, hold his hand to help him to wave bye-bye.
  • Plan appropriate play-time duration with your child’s need. Some children are not ready for a very short play time, some easily get bored when the play time is too long.
  • Children are easily influenced and will join into play when they see their parents enjoy the play/activity although initially they are not interested in it.
  • Give rewards such as verbal praise if your child able to play till the end of the game.
  • Show to your child that you like him to play.
  • Encourage your child to describe or tell about the activity during play.
  • When children get bored of their toys, you can play it in a different way with your child.
  • Your child also needs his own playtime.
  • Safety issues while playing must not be jeopardized. Make sure that children are being supervised during play. Make sure also that the toys and play area are safe and far from hazard.

Toys that are suitable according to age

Make sure toys that is use for playing with your child is suitable with his age. Below are some of the toys that matches the child age.


Type of Toys

0 – 3 months

Soft toys, soft books and soft rattles

3 – 6 months

Light rattles, hard cover book, teething toys and baby play mat

6 – 9 months

Books, soft dolls, ball, wooden or soft blocks and miniature house furniture

2 – 4 years

Toys that can be pulled or pushed, toys that can be ride on and mini playground (slides or tunnel)

5 – 8 years

Manipulative toys such as cutting set, art and craft materials


Last Reviewed : 12 October 2016
Writer : Ernie Heliza bt Yusof
Translator   Maryam bt. Aizuddin
Accreditor : Nur Fariha bt. Md. Shah