Using pretend play to develop communication skills of 5- to 6-year-old children with mild intellectual disabilities

Hung Ho, HongDuc University, Vietnam (

Background: The number of children with mild intellectual disabilities learning in normal preschools in Vietnam is increasing. They have difficulty in language use and communication and their interactions with peers during school activities are limited. Therefore, supporting them to communicate so that they can integrate into the community is considered an important educational goal in inclusive preschools.

Aim: To suggest measures to develop communication skills of 5- to 6-year-old children with mild intellectual disabilities by using pretend play in kindergartens.

Methods: A survey was conducted of 150 preschool teachers and 27 managers about ways to develop the communicative skills of children with mild intellectual disabilities aged 5 to 6 years. The purpose of the survey was to draw participants’ attention to the communication difficulties of children with intellectual disabilities.

Results: Research results showed that teachers have difficulties supporting children with mild intellectual disabilities aged 5 to 6 years to interact and communicate. These findings form the foundation for solutions to improve children’s communicative skills through interaction with their peers in kindergarten.

Conclusion: Communication difficulties are a barrier that prevent children with intellectual disabilities from interacting with others. Encouraging these children to develop their communicative skills is always a top educational goal in the curriculum. The proposed measures would be important suggestions for preschool teachers and parents in using pretend play to develop children’s communication skills.

Implication for children: A positive communicative environment stimulates language and communication development. Your parents and teachers need to give you opportunities to participate in pretend play and create positive interaction to stimulate your development.

Implication for family: Parents need to create a positive communication environment through daily interactive activities. Children’s communicative skills can be improved by chatting and playing with them regularly.

Implication for practitioners: You should use appropriate educational methods to stimulate children with intellectual disabilities to communicate, recognise the importance of pretend play for the development of communication skills for these children, and use engaging play themes to stimulate them to participate in the play.

Keywords: pretend play; intellectual disability; inclusive kindergarten; communication skills

This presentation relates to the following United Nations Sustainable Development Goals