Learning About ‘People Play’

Before children begin to communicate, they need to be motivated to verbalise and share language. Some of the best ways we can do this is through promotion of preverbal skills, or skills required before a child will attempt to talk. Preverbal skills are part of communication and cognitive development and include; joint attention, imitation, turn taking, waiting, pointing etc. All these skills generally start to develop at about 7 months.

Making the connection with your child can sometimes be best done without toys and a great way to enhance preverbal skills are through people games! As the name suggests, people games use ‘people’ to make learning and play FUN. Clapping games, peek-a-boo, hide and seek, dancing and singing and chasey are all examples of fun and engaging people games.

These types of games allow children independence and control over there play, as they are structured and predictable and help facilitate routine-driven learning. They are repetitive thus support language and vocabulary development. They are fun and exciting which promotes connection and interest.

People games help teach children about:

  • Starting and ending a game (how games ‘work’)
  • Taking turns in games and talking!
  • Imitating
  • Joint attention (where objects are involved)
  • Looking and waiting (anticipation)
  • Requesting

Check out 14-month-old, Mila and her great grandfather, Alan engaging in ‘people play’ with a simple clapping game. She looks at him before, during and after clapping and Alan waits in anticipation for her to clap with him. Mila only has a few words, but she is probably thinking “oh wow, this is great fun!” and she is showing this by looking and laughing at Alan and sharing the enjoyment with him

























What type of people games will you attempt with your child this week?

By Hannah Morton, Speech Pathologist at Sydney Speech Clinic