Follow the child’s lead: Play and language.


Why is it important?

Following the child’s lead means letting the child choose the activity and letting the child play with it in their own way. Children naturally have a need to explore and discover new things, being led by the child can lead to exciting adventures.

By following your child's lead:

  • It shows the child you are interested in them
  • It helps the child concentrate because they are playing with something that interests them
  • It encourages them to talk
  • It develops their understanding because what you say will be more relevant


  • Stop what you are doing so that you can focus on the child.
  • Let the child lead the play and choose what they would like to do


  • Look at what the child is doing.
  • Listen to things the child tries to say.
  • Think about what the child would like to be able to say.
  •  This will make your responses more relevant and appropriate.


  • Explain: describe what the child is doing or looking at, say something short and simple that you think the child would like to be able to say.
  • Repeat: repeat back what the child says using the words and sentence.
  • Expand: repeat what the child says but add 1 or 2 words

For more information about how to follow your child's lead click the link on the sidebar.

Top Tip

When responding to your child wait for them to process the information your have told them. For a child to process the information you are saying it can take a little while, so slowing down speech and allowing thinking time will allow your child to take in what you are saying. To learn more about slowing down you speech and offering thinking time click on the link in the sidebar.
More information about how to follow your child's lead
Learn More

Age Groups

Find more games, resources, tips and links for your child's age group here.

Games & Resources

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Frequently Asked Questions

Are you looking for advice about your child's learning and development? We answer your frequently asked questions here.

Get in touch

For further support or advice, please feel free to contact us on the email address below.
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A Mackman Group collaboration - market research by Mackman Research | website design by Mackman

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