Play is how children make sense of their world. It’s also a great way for them to relax and get enjoyment from their surroundings.
Through play children can:
Develop a sense of self and become strong in their emotional wellbeing.
Grow their curiosity, cooperation, creativity and imagination.
See and solve problems.
Develop language and literacy skills.
Improve brain and motor development.
Encouraging play is a fantastic way to help your child develop, learn, and simply have fun! To do this, it’s important to use a space that is safe and free from any dangerous materials and equipment that might cause choking hazards or other risks. A play mat is a brilliant way to keep everything safe; it’s soft and gives your child a clear ‘play’ area. Be sure all play materials are very easy to access and keep an eye on your little one as they discover this new exciting space.
True ‘play’ is any activity or process started and controlled by the child. That means it’s important to turn off TVs, computer screens and smartphones and help them to use their imagination. Avoid the temptation to pack up too soon. If something has been made, built or set up by your child, try to leave it there for them to come back to after a nap or trip to the shops. By returning to a past game, they will find it easier to get going again.
Children will play alone or in groups. It’s important they have the opportunity to engage in all types of play throughout childhood. When they are in groups, it is likely that there might be a few small fights with other children or siblings. Don’t panic if this happens, it’s actually a great opportunity for parents to guide, support and set an example for their kids.
The best thing we can do as parents and caregivers is recognise and value the importance of play. Make it a priority and plan routines around it. Every family is different and will have different daily/weekly schedules. For some, play will occur naturally on a daily basis and fit easily into the daily routine, for others, it can easily be missed out thanks to busy schedules. In this instance, allocate time, change routines and prioritise playtime. It will make a huge difference to you and your child, and it’s also really fun!