Learn through Play
This is a concept that parents often question. Over time, our industry has learnt the advantages of having an environment enriched with open-ended resources that have no specific use or role, but are ready to be adapted to anything a child can THINK of. A picnic blanket with pebbles, shells, buttons, rocks, wood, old tiles, paddle pop sticks, straws, plastic pipes, cardboard tubes, wool, fabric...pretty much anything that is age appropriate can provide not only solid play time for the child but time away from the screen. See their imagination expand and show interest in ideas & concepts that can build on over time.
Here are a few tips that parents can remember to make play time for their child rich and meaningful:
Provide sufficient time for play
Children need time to explore an activity, make up a story or wrestle with a playmate. They become frustrated if play is interrupted often or is cut short. Chewing on and exploring a new toy takes time as an infant. Fashioning a pyramid out of blocks takes time. Inventing a game with neighbourhood children takes time. Parents should allow children to play in sufficiently large blocks of time for imagination to develop and interactions to take place.
Arrange for variety in play experiences
A different kind of play leads to different kinds of learning experiences. Picture or storybooks help with concentration. Balls help develop coordination and motor skills. Dress-up clothes provide for creativity and social interaction. Often, giving children fewer toys of a wider variety is more important than dozens of complicated toys.
Explore play with children
Children enjoy directing their own play much of the time but can benefit and gain ideas from a parent’s feedback or example.
Introduce a child to a new game such as kickball or help him or her fashion a pyramid out of building blocks. Children will enjoy your involvement and you can model play for them. Also, you can enjoy yourself!
Respond to a child’s invitation to play
Play with adults can help children develop as they learn to sing, play catch, listen to stories, create artwork or engage in other play activities. Say “yes” when a child asks you to play with him or her.
Ensure that toys are safe
Safety should be a parent’s concern. Adults should screen children’s toys and ensure their safety by checking the toys often for breaks, cracks, sharp edges or other potential concerns.
Help children have positive play interactions with others
Parents can help children learn to have positive play interactions with other children. Assist children to engage with each other and begin play experiences. Provide guidance if needed and aid them in resolving concerns or disagreements if necessary.