By: Lindsay Barret MS, CCC-SLP

Although the school year is here again, we still have plenty of warm days left to take advantage of the playground. This is a great place to work on language skills in a fun and motivating environment. Below are some receptive and expressive language domains to target:

Pragmatic language/social skills

The playground is filled with opportunities to use social language. Your child can engage in greetings, initiate or join play, take turns, engage in pretend play, and take the other children’s perspectives on the playground. Your child can also practice interrupting signs on the playground that indicate whether someone is looking or ready to play with others. For example, if a child is running alone, he/she is more likely an appropriate peer to initiate play with than a peer who is crying on a bench or having a private conversation with an adult. Understanding these social “rules” is often challenging for children.

Following directions

Give your child single or multi-step directions to follow such as, “Climb up the ladder and then down the slide.” You can incorporate sequential, descriptive, quantitative, and spatial terms into your directions. Be sure to adjust the difficulty level of your directions to match your child’s receptive language abilities.


Problems are bound to arise on the playground. Children are required to remain flexible and incorporate other’s ideas into their play. Children may disagree about where to go on the playground. Problem-solving on the playground may involve determining rules for play. Children are also required to understand that everyone plays games a little differently. We suggest discussing common problems that may arise with your children ahead of time to prepare them for potential challenges and promote flexibility.


The playground is a great place to use critical thinking skills. By looking around the playground, we can guess what games kids are playing, what the weather is like, and how people are feeling. Kids can predict how a game will end and use the information around them on the playground to draw conclusions.

Describing/expanding vocabulary

It is important to create a stimulating, language-rich environment for your child to facilitate their language development. This can take place anywhere, but the playground is busy, making it the perfect space to provide language models for your children. There are countless conversation topics and experiences to be a part of on the playground. Discuss descriptive terms, spatial terms, opposites, categories, object functions, nouns, verbs, etc. to expand your child’s vocabulary.

If you’d like more tips to facilitate your child’s language on the playground, contact our office today. Enjoy the playground and start building language!