The Power of Language

November 6, 2008 at 4:39 PM 1 comment

Now that the elections are over, I feel like I need to take a break from all the dialogue, language, speeches, news articles and countless words that have been uttered by candidates these last few months.

In thinking about all that was written and said, I could not help but reflect on the power of language and how important it is in our lives.  Children sometimes struggle to take those first steps towards the world of communicating, a world that consists of two very different skill sets – that of formulating words that express what we want … and that of being able to listen and understand what the other person is trying to convey.

Only after that is mastered can children learn how to blend and weave these two skills into a conversation – a real give and take.  That’s when things get interesting.  To quote Oliver Wendell Holmes:

“Language is the blood of the soul into which thoughts run and out of which they grow.”

Once the verbal art of language has been achieved, we can humbly venture into the world of written language.

Children with special needs can sometimes struggle with the challenges of conquering both the spoken aspects as well as the written elements of language.

Here at AblePlay we put a great deal of emphasis on helping children with disabilities to use toys to help achieve language skills.  The information on our website touches on so many solutions to address the goal of helping children communicate. We believe a great motivator for children to conquer language is through play.   Let me share just a few play items and how they can help children work on this important stage of development.

Bee Bop Band by Parents

• Use the instruments to represent feelings; have a child play out the way they feel. This is one way for a child to communicate feelings they may not be able to verbally explain.
• Children can pretend play with the insect instruments, encourage them to communicate with the sounds as well as words.
• Have 2 children sit together and take turns playing a rhythm. Have one child play, and the other reply once they have finished their “tune”. This kind of turn-taking introduces the idea of conversation: listening (receptive language) and replying (expressive language).

Dbd Play Pack – Social Skills for Small Groups by The Pencil Grip, Inc.

• Communication and appropriate interaction is encouraged that will help children learn conversation etiquette. An example is in the “Object Memory” activity. Children are given a short period of time to look at objects in a box. Then the box is taken away and they go around the circle verbally identifying objects they remember. Listening to others, waiting for your turn and responding are all worked on. Another activity is “Story Build” where children take turns to verbally add to a story.

Fridge Phonics™ Magnetic Letter Set by LeapFrog Enterprises, Inc.

• Receptive language is practiced as children are verbally given the instructions of the activities.
• Receptive and expressive languages are incorporated into activities such as “Telephone Charades” where children are lined up in a row and take turns acting out an object or whispering the name of the object to the next person.

So let the joy of play help your children work on these important skills and learn the power and the potential that language can bring to their lives.

And I’ll end this blog  with another reference to the elections with a great quote on language from a man whose job it was to work with words — the well known newscaster of the 1950’s, Edward R. Murrow.

“Our major obligation is not to mistake slogan for solutions.”

Perhaps you will agree now that the elections are over, we need less language and more solutions.

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