Children genrerally start to play pretend around the age of two. It is a key step in their cognitive development. Children with hearing loss play pretend, just as their peers do, but there are some differences to keep in mind.
The Importance of Pretend Play
A study done on children aged 28 to 30 months showed that there were some major differences between the effects of pretend play on hearing children and on children with hearing loss. However, it was very beneficial to both groups.
Both groups of children played pretend with their mothers, and researchers observed these interactions carefully. Here are some of the major findings:
- Both Groups of Children Learned Sequencing and Planning
Sequencing means going from individual actions to a string of related actions. Planning is exactly what it sounds like – children go from thinking about what they want to do to doing it. Pretend play helps develop both of these crucial skills.
- Children Without Hearing Loss Play Pretend More Easily
One major differ difference was that children without hearing loss used decontextualization much more than children with hearing loss did. This means that hearing children had less difficulty moving on from real objects to imagined objects, because they find it easier to use symbols.
- Word Production Grows Significantly When Children With Hearing Loss Play Pretend
This study showed that children with hearing loss show some developmental delay when it comes to complex pretend games. However, playing pretend is great for developing their verbal skills.
Additionally, experts say that parental involvement can help children with hearing loss play pretend just as well as hearing children do, so long as parents make an effort to use visual cues. Sign language can bridge this developmental gap as well.
When children with hearing loss play pretend, their cognitive skills and communication skills improve. Parents should seek out expert advice and find the best ways to play with their children.