The Bridge School
Communicative Competence

Pretend Play

"Play is possibly the most important and natural context for language learning and language instruction. It is not only a source of pleasure for young children, but also a way to learn and practice new behaviors. Children experiment with life experiences when they play, constructing their understanding of objects and events and learning how to talk about them" (McCormick 2003).

Child-centered, thematic play activities are central to The Bridge School's Preschool Program. Preschool play centers are arranged so students have access to props and a range of communication tools designed to support their participation in play scenarios. Classroom staff use interaction strategies to support communicative competence skills. During pretend play, for example, students direct their own learning and adults carefully follow the attention and interests of the child while creating opportunities to develop the students operational, strategic, social and linguistic competencies.

Operational Competence Skills

Activate a single switch to operate toys, music, other errorless cause and effect activities.


Demonstrate motor control for direct selection of increasingly smaller targets, within increasingly larger arrays.

Seek out communication tools/system for use.

Strategic Competence Skills

Ambulate towards preferred objects and activities.

Use mementos or remnants to bypass vocabulary limitations and establish topics of interaction.

Social Competence Skills

Participate in simple games with peers by communicating a desire using a reliable response (looking, touching, saying a word with speech or SGD).

Demonstrate turn-taking during social interactions, social action games, songs, etc.

Use natural behaviors or gestures to indicate social attention and interest in peer communication partners.

Linguistic Competence Skills

Demonstrate comprehension of vocabulary within familiar routines and lessons.

Express concepts using representational strategies.


Bunce, B.H. (2008). Early literacy in action: The language-focused curriculum for preschool. Baltimore: Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co.

McCormick, L. (2003). Language Intervention in the Inclusive Preschool. In Supporting Children with Communication Difficulties in Inclusive Settings: School-based Language Intervention. 2nd Edition. McCormick, L., Loeb, D.F., & Schiefelbusch, R.L. (Eds). Boston: Allyn and Bacon.