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Play & Language: The Roots of Literacy

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Carol Westby, PhD, CCC-SLP, BCS-CL, ASDCS
6 Hours 19 Minutes
Audio and Video
Feb 09, 2018
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Digital Recordings


Don’t miss this opportunity to learn from Dr. Westby!

Language, cognitive and social-emotional learning skills are all essential for literacy development and academic success. Research shows that play is the universal activity that blends cognitive, social, emotional, linguistic and motor components. Observing children’s play provides information about their knowledge, views of the world and mastered skills.

Join Dr. Westby as you learn about the vital relationship between the dimensions of play, social-emotional functioning, language and literacy. Learn firsthand, how to effectively use the Westby Play Scale—a tool that offers a way to evaluate all young children’s (birth-5 years) symbolic play skills. Supported by 40 years of evidence-based research and organized by developmental level, this tool will breakdown the milestones children should be achieving with their play and language. You will also learn play practices and play strategies to improve language, cognitive and social-emotional skills, including:

  • Higher-level thinking, problem-solving and creativity
  • Advancing language skills and text comprehension
  • Awareness of temporal, cause-effect and social relationships
  • Motivation, self-regulation and empathy
  • Interpreting and responding appropriately to the needs, desires, and roles of others

These intervention activities will work for all young children, but special focus will be given to interventions for children with language learning disabilities, autism, socioeconomic/cultural variations and ESL.



This online program is worth 6.25 hours CPD.



Carol Westby, PhD, CCC-SLP, BCS-CL, ASDCS's Profile

Carol Westby, PhD, CCC-SLP, BCS-CL, ASDCS Related seminars and products

Carol Westby, PhD, CCC-SLP, BCS-CL, ASDCS, is an internationally-renowned expert on play assessment and development in children. She is the developer of the renowned Westby Symbolic Play Scale, a research-based scale used to assess children's social and play skills. Dr. Westby has written and implemented projects to support personnel preparation, clinical service, and research, including Project PLAY (Play and Language Attunement in Young Children), that trains caregivers to increase the development of play, theory of mind, and language.

Dr. Westby is a fellow of the American-Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), is Board-Certified in Child Language and Literacy Disorders, and has received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from Geneva College and the University of Iowa's Department of Speech Pathology and Audiology, the ASHA Award for Contributions to Multicultural Affairs, the Honors of ASHA, and the Kleffner Lifetime Clinical Career Award.

Dr. Westby has published and presented nationally and internationally on topics including play, autobiographical memory, theory of mind, language-literacy relationships, narrative/expository development and facilitation, adverse childhood experiences, screen time, trauma, metacognition/executive function, and assessment and intervention with culturally/linguistically diverse populations. She has consulted with the New Mexico Preschool for the Deaf, which employs a play-based curriculum.

Dr. Westby has been a visiting professor at Flinders University in South Australia where she worked on a language/literacy curriculum, and at Brigham Young University where she consulted on SEEL, a systematic and engaging emergent literacy program that employs playful practice. she is a consultant for Bilingual Multicultural Services in Albuquerque, NM and holds an affiliated appointment in communication disorders at Brigham Young University in Provo, UT. Dr. Westby is certified as an Autism Spectrum Disorder Clinical Specialist (ASDCS).


Speaker Disclosures:
Financial: Carol Westby has employment relationships with Brigham Young University and Bilingual Multicultural Services. She receives royalties as a published author. Carol Westby receives a speaking honorarium and recording royalties from PESI, Inc. She has no relevant financial relationships with ineligible organizations.
Non-financial: Carol Westby is a member of American Board of Child Language and Language Disorders. 


  1. Determine how play deficits cause intellectual, social, emotional and physical harm to children.
  2. Articulate the development and interrelationships of cognition, play, language, socialemotional skills and literacy.
  3. Assess a child’s play development and language skills using the Westby Play Scale.
  4. Recommend appropriate activities and strategies to develop young children’s language/ social-emotional/play skills at each level.
  5. Employ play to promote the cognitive, language, social-emotional and self-regulation skills that underlie children’s effective social interactions and literacy comprehension.
  6. Establish how play can facilitate self-regulation, empathy and the foundations for reading comprehension.


  • Foundations of Cognitive-Play-Literacy Relationship: Frameworks for Assessment and Intervention
    • Dynamic systems theory: integrating nature and nurture theories
    • The World Health Organization’s International Classification of Functioning
    • A performance competence framework for assessment and intervention
  • Social-Emotional/Cognitive Precursors to Play: Birth-17 months
    • Neurotypical and atypical patterns of social-emotional development
    • Environmental influences on social-emotional development and play
    • Temperamental variations in children
    • Presymbolic play
  • Development of Pretend Play Dimensions (17 months – 5 years): Relationship of Play Dimensions to Language and Literacy
    • Theory of Mind Dimension (understanding thoughts and feelings of self and others)
    • Decontextualization Dimension (reduced use of props in play)
    • Thematic Dimension (from familiar to novel pretend themes)
    • Organization Dimension (sequencing and planning of play)
  • Interventions to Promote Playing to Learn
    • Setting goals for playful learning
    • Promote literate-style language through play
    • Develop phonological awareness skills through playful practices
    • Promote thematic pretend play to develop foundations for language and literacy

Target Audience

Speech-Language Pathologists, Speech-Language Pathology Assistants, Occupational Therapists, Occupational Therapy Assistants, Reading Specialists, Head Start Staff, Early Childhood Special Education Staff, Learning Disabilities Specialists, Preschool Teachers, Counselors, Social Workers, Other Helping Professionals who Work with Children (Birth - 5 Years)



Overall:      4.9

Total Reviews: 27


Brooke S

"This course was great! I would highly recommend it to others. "

Sandra H

"excellent content, presenter very knowledgeable, great assessment tools to use for caseload"

Laurie E

"Amazing. I was very impressed by this live seminar. Such wonderful presentation of very important information."

Sheri L

"This was a wonderful webinar. Thank you!"

Laura O

"Great class! I learned a lot."

Linda W

"Thank you very much for this presentation"

Jennifer D

"I appreciated how Carol Westby engaged the participants in a variety of ways. For example, she started talking about her raising ducks, which was an innovative and attention-getting way of making her point. It helped me refocus on the material and stay engaged (similar to a Brain Break that educators do so often with students). I can't say enough positive things about this learning."

Elaine H


Edith B

"I requested some handouts that were emailed to me immediately. Thank you!"

Amy S

"None at this time."

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