Simple & Motivating Activities to Encourage Language or Learning

We all know how motivating lollies or toys are to get our children to clean their room up or behave themselves when out somewhere but have you ever thought to use them in games to encourage the development of language and learning?

Children who are having difficulty learning basic concepts or sounds sometimes need extrinsic reinforcement until the ‘inner proudness’ kicks in. As the task becomes easier the extra rewards can be slowly replaced with words of praise.

Always keep the toy or treat for this purpose  only – not allowing your child to have it for other reasons, otherwise you will find your child negotiating what task they have to complete to get the reward! eg if they love watching spinning toys then choose one they can only have when they have accomplished a particular task such as putting their own shoes on.

Something I used to always have stashed in a large shoebox was motivating gadgets I picked up from the two dollar shops such as bottles of bubbles, whistles, balloons on end of straws that would whistle when they were blown up… These toys were used to encourage children to learn to blow, a simple berthing technique we all take for granted that is a pre-requisite to creating breath for some sounds and saying a sentence. So while my students thought they were ‘playing’ we were actually ‘learning a skill’ they would have hated if I had just done boring drill style activities.

Counting bubbles while you pop them is a great way to learn how to count too. Candy is a highly motivating activity to learn how to sort (by colour), order the smallest group to largest group of candy or even simple addition or multiplication etc.

When it comes to identifying what skills your child needs to learn it is easy. The key is to make the task of learning the skill easy, so start thinking of alternative activities that are more motivating to get the same result, eg if your child is finding it hard to learn how to write letters think of using other items other than a pencil such as paint or finger-writing in shaving foam or soap on your glass door or kitchen bench. This is also a motivating way to practise the weekly spelling list too!

So get those thinking caps on and start listing some creative ideas to help your child learn the skills they’re finding difficult. Not only will they enjoy the process of learning a lot more but it relieves the stress and idea that learning something new is always too hard. We would love you to add your list of motivating games or ideas here to share with others too.

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