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Word Play: Scaffolding Language Development Through Child-Directed Play

Abstract

Play is an important activity in young children’s lives. It is how children explore their world and build knowledge. Although free play, which is play that is totally child directed, contributes to children’s learning, self-regulation and motivation, adults’ participation in children’s play is critical in their development, especially their language development. Guided by children, adults can help scaffold children’s language, and especially their learning. We suggest that adults scaffold children’s language during play by using research based strategies such as asking questions that invite extended responses and new inquiry, provide meaningful feedback and effectively use wait time, which provides children with the opportunity to respond to adults’ comments and questions. The goal is to provide adults with strategies to scaffold children’s language development during play while allowing children to direct their own play activities.

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Correspondence to Barbara A. Wasik.

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Wasik, B.A., Jacobi-Vessels, J.L. Word Play: Scaffolding Language Development Through Child-Directed Play. Early Childhood Educ J 45, 769–776 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10643-016-0827-5

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Keywords

  • Language development
  • Play
  • Vocabulary