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Have you ever wondered about how your child should be playing? Today Kayla Chalko,  SLP from Walkie Talkie, talks with me today about the importance of play for learning. We talk all about play milestones and the importance of parent-to-child connection in building up to those.

What are the benefits of play? The amount of time that someone could spend doing formal instruction, versus the time spent playing while introducing content, much more information will stick. Shared activities with an adult and child or multiple children also bring impactful connections and social skills.

Parents can get nervous when hearing the word milestones, especially if they find their child isn’t measuring up. Milestones are a guideline and a point on which to work from. So what are some basic play milestones?

6 months – 12 months: Engaging in social games such as peek-a-boo or patty cake, usually paired with words and songs. Silly games involving back and forth and imitation.

18 months: Using tools to pretend actions like hammering, pouring and mixing. Playing with sensory items. Developing their imagination with more pretend play, they may pretend to feed dolls or mom.

2 years: Continuing pretend play. They may imitate normal activities from their home. They may play house, clean up, and imitate the caregivers. At this brainstage, they are ready to pretend based on their environment. Beginning to try joint play with other kids.

Change your mindset from working specifically on milestones to genuine connection. Play can be an intimidating word for parents, but make it all about connection. What makes you and your kid feel silly? Start with something like that, loosen up and feel silly. Mindset is the most important piece; this is how you create connection with the child, and that’s where those play skills will come through.

Therapy should be fun for the child and for the clinician. Creating an atmosphere  that is fun and functional is important. A lot of therapists are eager for a list of toys for their therapy room. Kayla’s go-to toys are her balloon pump, a ball, markers, puppet books, and bubbles. However, she says regardless of toys, it is all about the mindset and connection. Sometimes your best toys are your hands, voice, and facial expressions. It doesn’t matter what you’re playing with; it’s how you’re playing with it.

Kayla’s closing advice is to get rid of the pressure and perfection. Stop worrying about milestones and connections. She says that if parents can focus purely on connection with their child for just a week, she guarantees that they will improve and learn so much more over the course of that time!

#autism #speechtherapy 

What's Inside:

  • A breakdown of play skill milestones.
  • What does play look like for children 6 months to 2 years of age?
  • How parents and providers can support play skills.

Today's Guest:

Kayla is the director and has 10 years of professional experience working with children, including her years as a preschool teacher. She specializes in Early Intervention Speech Therapy with children ages 18 months to 3 years old. In her master’s program, she received extra training on Autism Spectrum Disorders at San Diego State University and is especially skilled in speech therapy with children with Autism. Her passion is educating and empowering families to help their child with a speech or language delay to communicate effectively. 

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