Fun and Effective Speech Language Therapy: The Power of Play in Learning

Speech-Language Pathologists often face misconceptions about their therapeutic approach, with some dismissing it as mere play. However, therapists understand the profound benefits of play-based strategies, recognizing that oral language naturally develops through childhood play and imitation. In this blog post, we'll delve into the significance of play, its impact on brain development, and how it helps children develop vital skills like problem-solving and communication.This strategy is based on the fact that oral language is learned spontaneously in childhood by most children, mostly by imitation, and through play and daily living routines.

children play to learn


"Play is more than just fun. It's work. It's change. It's development, and it help people to change what is important, especially in the core-deficit of autism, social communication and interaction.” (S. Brown, 2009)

Play: Children's Gateway to Future Skills

Play is more than just a fun activity; it serves as a crucial foundation for future skill development. As children engage in play, their brains form new connections and neurons, fostering cognitive growth and language development. Without play experiences, these vital neural connections remain unformed, hindering the development of relationships, cognition, and language.

Promoting Play in Schools: Nurturing Independent Thinkers

Regrettably, play is often neglected in school settings. Nonetheless, it plays a pivotal role in helping children learn to take reasonable risks, problem-solve, and think independently. Encouraging play within schools is essential for students to develop their creativity and socialization skills. 

play to learn

The definition of play is to follow the child's lead, let the child have their own ideas, and really think about when you're playing with the child.  If it's your idea, chances are the child won't stay and play with you for very long because they want to be able to have their own ideas. As soon as a clinician (or parent) starts to change the idea and make it their own, they lose the child.

Play-Based Strategies for Language Development

For students experiencing atypical language development, play-based strategies are invaluable for promoting language skills. For children with and without special educational needs play is crucial, as it is a way for students to socialize and make sense of the world (Stewart, 2009). Play intrinsically motivates children to explore and learn through interactive play materials, aiding language development and fostering socialization. Vygotsky's theories underscore the significance of play in enhancing language use and regulating thought processes. Vygotsky's idea was that through play, children become more competent in their language use and begin to regulate their own thought processes, start to explore with language and interaction, and develop higher-level skills.

Children with autism often gravitate towards sensory motor play, engaging in self-directed, self-isolating activities. This type of play is essential for them to establish relationships and stay engaged with their environment. By utilizing play as a therapeutic tool, therapists can help these children progress to higher levels of complex pretend play, thereby boosting social communication and interaction skills.


The immense value of play in speech language therapy cannot be overstated. Through play, children develop essential skills and build the foundation for future growth. Play-based strategies not only enhance language development but also facilitate socialization, problem-solving, and independent thinking. So, embrace the power of play and watch as it transforms speech language therapy into an enjoyable and transformative experience for children of all abilities. Go ahead, have fun, and let the magic of play unfold!

So, that’s why we play.  Go, have fun!

Helping parents understand how to use play to build language? Here is a FREE handout for them.

using toys to build language skills

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