How to use Peppa Pig to promote Speech and Language Development (by a Speech and Language Therapist)
Many parents of pre-schoolers feel guilty about letting their child have regular screen time. Newspapers are full of studies to show that background television can be damaging for language development, particularly when it is at the expense of language promoting interactions such as singing nursery rhymes, playing games, reading books and outdoor play.
However, less frequently discussed is the findings that high quality children’s television is associated with benefits in children 2 and over (some studies point to benefits from 18 months). Research has found that reasonable exposure to educational television programmes can boost children’s receptive language (comprehension), expressive language (talking), letter sound knowledge and interest in learning. In particular, co viewing educational programmes with parents and carers can promote vocabularly acquisition and narrative development, an essential pre literacy skill. View the National Literacy Trust Literature review on television and Early Years for more information.
Every parent needs a break, adults and toddlers get tired, overwhelmed and enjoy snuggling together in front of the television. Peppa Pig’s short structured stories, simple vocabulary and high quality content make it a great choice for pre-schoolers. Below are five top activities using Peppa Pig to support your child’s language development, by a Speech and Language Therapist.
Highlight Key Vocabulary
Peppa Pig stories focus on key vocabulary that toddlers and pre schoolers are likely to come across in their daily lives. Toddlers need to hear a word many times before they use it. For younger children, reinforce vocabulary by repeating key words e.g look DUCKS, Peppa’s feeding the DUCKS. The DUCKS are eating bread. For older children, model and explain new language e.g ‘It’s Talent Day at Playgroup, A talent is something you are really good at, Peppa’s talent is jumping in muddy puddles’.
Who, Where and What Happened?
Narrative skills are essential for conversation and are closely linked to literacy development. The ability to recall brief stories has been found to predict later reading achievement.
During an episode you can make comments such as ‘I wonder what will happen next’ and ‘I wonder why he did that’ to develop your preschooler’s storytelling ability.
After an episode encourage your pre-schooler to talk about Who, Where and What happened. For example:
Who: Mummy Pig, Daddy Pig, Peppa and George
Where: In the Park
What happened: Having a picnic. Daddy Pig is chased by a wasp.
You can even make up your own Peppa Pig stories together using this framework.
For older children, use additional questions such as When (night time, at Christmas) and more complex questions, ‘why’, ‘what if’ and discuss what happened ‘First, Next and Last’.
Talk about Feelings
Feelings vocabulary is linked to the development of empathy required for sharing and friendship skills. Recent research has discovered that children whose parents encouraged them to label and explain emotions had toddlers who helped and shared with other children more often.
When watching Peppa Pig, regularly comment on the feelings of the characters in the programme. If you have younger children focus on Happy, Sad and Angry. Talk about the features of each emotion and how we know the character is feeling that way e.g ‘Look they are happy, they are smiling/laughing’ ‘Oh no, George is Sad, he’s crying’. For older children, discuss why they are feeling that way ‘Oh look, Peppa is sad because it’s raining and she can’t play outside’ and ask them to predict how characters are feeling ‘How do you think Mummy Pig feels?’. You can also highlight and discuss more complex emotions such as embarrassment and jealousy.
If you are watching Peppa Pig online or on a DVD, encourage your child to choose the episode himself. For younger children, provide two options e.g Bubbles or Camping. This will encourage your child to communicate using words and is a good way to develop new vocabulary. For older children, providing choices will give them a sense of control and promote positive behaviour.
Repeating the same episode over and over can be annoying for parents, but it’s fantastic for your child’s language development. Children learn vocabulary through familiarity and repetition. Let your child play their favourite episodes regularly and encourage them to join in with familiar vocabulary.
Most of all, talk to your child, have fun with and enjoy your child. Although television should never replace playing in the park, reading books or other important parent and child interactions, when used appropriately it can be a great tool for promoting development and letting adults and children relax together. For more information on promoting Speech and Language Development, check out our other blog posts and take a look at our Specialist classes now available in Manchester.