Some children don't like toys.
Some children aren't ready for toys.
Some children have grown out of loving toys.
So, as Speech-Language Pathologists, what do we do when our toddlers, preschoolers, and early elementary students don't love toys? How are we supposed to play?
Here are some key tips for bringing play into your therapy sessions - without toys!
The first tip is to remember that no matter what age or stage is -follow the child's lead. This may look different across ages.
For toddler and preschoolers, watch what they do in your therapy room, at home, and in the classroom. Join in whatever activity they enjoy. Maybe it's running around, spinning, or playing peek a boo.
For older students - silence is gold. When you take the role of an active listener, your students will open up to you about everything and anything that they find interesting. You'll be amazed at what they share if you just listen attentively. Use the things they talk about and incorporate them into therapy. Maybe it's sports - try bringing in some sports books or games. Maybe it's art - try bringing some crafts. Maybe it's music - bring some songs or lyrics into therapy!
When in doubt - Watch, Listen, Wait, Join
Some playful activity suggestions for kids who don't love toys:
Children who are not ready for toys: Tickle Games, Chase, Dancing, Peek-boo.
Children who don't like toys: Board Games, Crafts, Pretend Play Scenarios.
Children who have grown out of playing with toys: Games with Rules, Crafts, Science Experiments, Drawing Comics.
Remember - Play doesn't have to include toys. Of course, it can, but toys are not a critical component of play.