Nobody is implying that you aren’t amusing. Your monkey impersonation is hysterical. Your UNO abilities are unmatched. And you’re a master of the sidewalk chalk. But, Mom and Dad, there are moments when you just have to let the kids play. While parent-child play is necessary for a child’s development, it’s also important for them to play on their own. It’s been proved to improve a child’s vocabulary, school performance, and self-esteem.
When your child isn’t following any rules or boundaries, such as when he’s busy constructing forts, pretending to be a superhero, or fingerpainting, he’s engaging in free, unstructured play. It promotes self-reliance, imagination, creativity, and problem-solving abilities.
Free play is also a great way to relieve tension. Children use free play to deal with their worry and fears. It’s how they naturally create resiliency. Play, according to neuroscientists, is essential to all types of learning and even physically modifies the brain. According to scientists, the more playful a child is, the larger his brain.
How To Encourage Rich Play
Use Unscheduled Time To Discover
You can encourage your child to experience rich play by providing open-ended play materials that can be used in many different ways.
Blocks, shovels, water, sand, snow, rocks, and other materials that can be played in multiple ways are excellent for encouraging rich play.
Some toys have a clear purpose such as a doll, which can be held, and the child pretends to be the parent while other toys promote imagination, such as a magic wand can become a pointer to show which way to go.
See also: Genius Summer Activities For Kids 2021
Playing Together With Adult
If you can provide an hour of playtime per day to your child, then you’re doing the right thing. Spending quality time with your child and allowing them to pick the activity helps the child make Set out an hour per week, if possible, to spend quality time with your child and do precisely what he or she wants to do. You follow your child’s lead during playtime.
That implies you should join your child in the sandbox if she requests it. You may also play the baby while he plays the mommy if he wants you to. Your presence allows for a deeper level of meaningful play. Your child may seek your assistance in resolving a difficult issue with a friend, reenacting a doctor’s visit, or attempting something new and difficult, such as walking on a balance beam.
While on a play date or at the playground, you may wish to assist your child in their play. Of course, we all want our children to develop associative and cooperative play skills, but this takes time. “I saw you gazing at Aiden,” you can tell your child. “Should we approach him and ask if he’d like to join us on our climb?”
Children’s play provides a wealth of opportunities for your child’s development, such as acquiring new concepts and social skills. Adults can follow a child’s lead or provide mild guidance, but when children are in command, play is at its most rewarding.
Age-Specific Ideas for Playful Learning
When children play, they naturally learn. Learning is so much more than just test scores and academic achievements.
Here are some age-specific ideas for learning through play.
Birth to 6 Months
Yes, it’s true, babies CAN play starting at birth.
You can respond to your baby’s smile with a smile of your own and imitate your babies’ sounds to promote conversation.
You can show your baby bright and colorful objects and let her put those objects in her mouth to explore and experience new things.
Tummy time and back play are good ways to promote play in babies who are strong enough to hold up their heads. Here are some awesome cause and effect toys for babies.
7 to 12 Months
This is the stage where the baby is more mobile and can crawl and explore your home. Provide ample opportunities for your baby to explore different parts of the house.
Your baby may want to drop things from the high chair to see what happens, use a mirror and make different facial expressions, and reach for a toy that looks exciting.
You can engage in play at this stage by playing peek-a-boo and singing songs.
1 to 3 Years
When children reach the age of one, you can start looking for daycare for your child, even if it is part-time. Look for a daycare center that encourages playful learning and unstructured playtime.
Provide your child with Tupperware from your kitchen, wooden blocks, and lots of puzzles at this age.
Children can also tandem play at this age and stage of life, so be sure to host some playdates if you can. Take lots of opportunities to walk, jump, run, and hop on one leg to keep up with the gross motor skill learning.
Read a lot of books to and with your child and explore the stories further by using pretend play and imagination. Children at this age also love songs and nursery rhymes, which you can find on Netflix, youtube, or simply sing yourself.
4 to 6 Years
By age four, your child should be more independent and can play on their own, but you can help encourage play by providing opportunities for your child to sing, dance, and tell stories.
This is a great age range to get your little one to help with chores around the house, but make it fun, so it doesn’t seem like an annoying thing.
Healthy levels of screen time are ok at this age, but social interactions are, of course, preferred.
Types Of Play That Are Important In Child Development
Pretend play is all about playing dress-up and make-believe games to encourage imagination and get the creativity flowing.
During pretend play, children develop communication and language skills and can often express what their wants and needs are in the moment of play. For example:
- “You be the patient, and I’ll be the doctor.”
- “You be the mailman, I’ll wait for the mail.”
Physical play can be practiced at the playground during recess. Children learn to take risks by exploring climbing structures in a safe environment.
There are certain games that children play in larger groups such as duck-duck-goose and tag, which can promote healthy social-emotional skills as children learn not to harm others while they play.
All children should be experiencing outdoor play on a daily basis. When children play outside, they use their senses to learn balance and spatial awareness.
Playing outside can also help with expanding your children’s attention span, which is why recess is a very important aspect of school.
When children play with toys, they develop abstract thought concepts such as symbolism by using their imaginations and using objects for different purposes than what they are intended for.
Parenting Tips for Encouraging Rich Play Bottom Line
When considering what toys to purchase your child, avoid active toys that do everything for them – toys with buttons, directions, lights, and music. Instead, choose for passive toys that allow your youngster to express themselves.
This is one of the reasons why a cardboard box is so fascinating: it could be anything!
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