Family Game Night for Language Development
Practicing speech and language skills at home doesn’t need to be a chore that children dread. Helping your child continue to make progress with their speech and language therapy can be as easy as a family game night.
Board games are often used in a therapy setting because they are easy tools that therapists can manipulate and build upon to work on speech and language goals. Board games naturally teach the pragmatic language skills required to move about in social environments.
These popular board games are winners among children and speech-language pathologists.
- Apples to Apples Junior
- Boggle Jr.
Games don’t have to be ready-made. A little imagination and creativity can spark an activity that quickly becomes a beloved family game. Keep in mind that the game itself is not therapy; it’s simply a tool that aids in speech-language therapy. Games should incorporate a few key elements in order to be a relevant aid to speech-language therapy.
Pragmatic Language and Social Interaction
Games can teach important social skills to children. Skills such as verbal communication, taking turns, working as a team, waiting, and sharing are all skills that are honed in and practiced in speech-language therapy. Games can help children focus and practice social language standards. Children who struggle with language barriers may find it’s more fun to talk and engage in a game setting.
Games Provide Rules and Boundaries
Just as therapy sessions provide structure so do games. Each game has a set of rules or conduct that the player must follow. For children with attention and focusing problems, reiterating rules and conduct for the game allows them to work on retaining information. If you’ve made up a game, letting the child assist in rule setting will guide them in remembering and following the rules they’ve created.
Making Adjustments for Processing Speed
If a child struggles with processing speed, the speed at which the brain process information, you may want to consider modifications to the game. Some children require extra time to process a question or information and come up with an answer. Setting a time limit on how long they have is a way to keep the game moving. Processing speed also refers to how long it takes to complete a task, i.e. moving a piece on a board or making a puzzle piece fit.
Winners and Losers
Playing games is serious business for children and winning is critical to feeling successful. Even children as young as three or four want to win. It’s important to balance a child’s pleasure in playing the game versus the impatience or frustration of wanting to win. Consider whether or not your child may need “help” in winning the game. Choose a game that can be modified for their speech-language needs or choose a game that is appropriate for their age and skill level.