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Friday, April 3, 2020

Whimsical Words: 9 Benefits of Communication Play

Whimsical Words: 9 Benefits of Communication Play

Photo by PublicDomainPictures (pixabay)

Children learn best by doing. We all know about the physical health benefits of playing, but did you know that children learn a lot of communication skills through play? As children play, they learn how to carry on conversations, how to express their thoughts and ideas, and even how to decipher body language and facial expressions. Communication play is key to helping children to develop their language skills. Play that involves acting, singing, reciting rhymes, miming, or telling jokes helps children develop their communicative abilities. It also uses the entire body and mind, incorporating vocal skills, hand gestures, and body language. Learn more about the benefits of communication play and you'll see why it's so important for your kids.
    1. It helps develop language skills. When your child pretends that they are saving the world, they are a raccoon, or anything else their bright little minds come up with, they are pushing themselves to extend their language skills. Pretend play encourages children to explain the world they are creating in their mind and even promotes the use of new vocabulary. After all, everyday life might not encourage your children to describe a legend where a giant lives with tiny green fairies, but they might very well wish to dream up such a world and explain it to their playmates as they play.
    2. Remembering and telling jokes can help build memory and concentration. Did you know that babies show the first signs of a sense of humor at about five weeks of age when they start smiling at their parents' antics? From babyhood, the development of a sense of humor is an essential part of children's development. Learning to tell a joke requires children to memorize exact word order, learn how to pause for audience reaction, and relay information effectively. Just learning one joke helps kids build their memorization skills.
    3. It builds confidence when children can deliver a joke, line, or argument successfully. Even as an adult, there are few things better than having your loved ones and friends laugh at your jokes or change their mind because of one of your well-reasoned arguments. Successfully entertaining or educating people you love builds confidence for everyone. It's especially helpful in developing children's confidence. Learning to share information effectively is an important skill, and the immediate response of a laugh to a well-told joke or someone agreeing with their vocalized thoughts reinforces to children that their words matter and leads them to further experimentation and growth.
    4. Laughter is healthy and healing! A nice laugh is good for people in many ways. It relieves stress, and it also relieves physical tension in the body. Some studies have shown that muscles are more relaxed for up to 45 minutes after a good laugh! The immune system also benefits from a good bout of laughter: Laughter decreases stress hormones in the body and increases immune cell and antibody responses. So make silly faces at your kids and let them reciprocate. Laughter is good for the entire family!
    5. It helps children understand symbolism. Many children struggle with the idea that "$" represents money or that a $5 bill has more value than a $1 bill. Ever asked children to sort cash and seen that they were sure that a penny would be worth more than a dime because the penny is bigger? It's because these sorts of mental tasks require understanding symbolism. Parents often realize their children are having trouble grasping symbolism when the child struggles with the idea of the alphabet. Luckily, communicative play lets children experiment with symbolism. Pretending their swing set is really a castle while they act out fairy tales lets children grapple with the idea that one thing can stand in for another thing.
    6. It helps children understand the importance of listening carefully. Ever play Simon Says? It's a verbal game that requires children to listen carefully. When the leader says "Simon says" followed by an instruction, the player must perform the direction. But if the leader doesn't say "Simon says" before giving a direction and the player performs it anyway, the player is out. You can tell your children about the importance of listening carefully and following directions, but it won't have the impact that losing a communicative game like Simon Says will!
    7. It teaches children about teamwork. A lot of commutative play requires working with other people. Miming, acting out a favorite cartoon, and telling jokes all usually involve more than one person. Sometimes, participants are divided into the performer(s) and the audience, but other forms of performative play require the participants to work in a team. Games like Pass the Apple require children to work together using verbal and body language to win.
    8. Rhyming games show children the complexity of language. Language is very complex, and learning all of the subtleties and rules associated with both the written and spoken word can be overwhelming for many kids. Luckily, rhymes help children begin to understand and experiment with the complexity of language. They start learning about syllables through verses. Repeating nursery rhymes they are familiar with helps them learn to anticipate rhyming words. Anticipating the next word helps them prepare to make predictions about what they are reading, which is a vital literacy skill.
    9. Miming helps children learn to express their thoughts and feelings. Long before your children uttered their first words, they were already communicating with you through gestures. Gestures and body language form an essential part of everyone's communication skillset. Learning to mime and playing mime games helps children understand the importance of gestures as a communication tool and also teaches them to think about what they are trying to communicate and how they can best achieve their communication goals.
    10. Find more about the author: Kim Hart

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