“Preschools with language impairments do not enter conversations as often as typically developing children” (Hadley & Rice, 1991).
One way for SLPs to provide in-class therapy for pre-K children is to organize structured dramatic play lessons. The concept is to teach children vocabulary and thematic play “scripts.” Then, allow children to play, coaching them to use the new concepts and to increase the amount of interactions with their peers. After a free play period, children can describe the completed activities using visual supports in order to build language skills within a functional context.
Research supports the use of structured dramatic play to build language and pre-literacy skills:
- “The plan-play-report intervention is effective for improving social skills and promoting advances in children's cognitive and communicative development” (Craig-Unkefer & Kaiser, 2003).
- “The intention of play planning and resulting play appears to exercise mature play behaviors that are foundational in executive functioning, namely inhibitory control, working memory, and cognitively flexibility” (Diamond et. Al, 2008).
- “Results from the study provide support for the inclusion of systematic training of scripts to enhance interaction and communication skills among children with and without disabilities using socio-dramatic play “(Goldstein & Cisar, 1992).
- “Children learn vocabulary best when the teacher provides opportunities to use and practice vocabulary in context” ( Newman, Susan and Julie Dwyer, 2009).
- “One way to improve vocabulary through literacy is to have children “re-enact the book, making up their own versions of the story” (Wilcox, 2001).
Speech Language Literacy Lab is also available to present on this and other topics to groups via distance learning (Skype/gchat) conferences. Interested individuals should contact:
Jennifer Preschern, MA CCC-SLP at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Craig-Unkefer, Lesley and Kaiser, Ann. “Increasing Peer-Directed Social- Communication Skills of Children Enrolled in Head Start.” Journal of Early Intervention, Volume 25, 2003.
Diamond, Adele, W. Steven Barnett, Jessica Thomas, and Sarah Munro. “Preschool Program Improves Cognitive Control.” Science, 2007.
Hadley, Pamela. Rice, Mabel. “Conversational Responsiveness of Speech and Language Impaired Preschoolers.” Journal of Speech and Hearing Research. December, 1991.
Goldstein, H., and Cisar, C. “Promoting interaction during sociodramtic play: teaching scripts to typical preschoolers and classmates with disabilities.” Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 25, 1992.
Morrow, Lesley, and Judith Schickedanz. “The Relationships between Sociodramatic Play and Literacy Development.” In Handbook of Early Literacy Research, vol. 2, 2006.
Neuman, Susan and Julie Dwyer. “Missing in Action: Vocabulary Instruction in Pre-K” The Reading Teacher, February 2009.
Roskos, Kathleen and James Christie. The Play-Literacy Nexus and the Importance of Evidence-Based Techniques in the Classroom. American Journal of Play, 2011
Wilcox, M.J., Murphy, K.M., Bacon, C.K., and Thomas, S. Improving language teaching practicesin preschool classrooms. Infant Child Research Programs, Arizona State University, Tempe Arizona, 2001.