PLAY is important work for our children! It helps them develop intellectual, motor, behavioral, language and social skills from birth into adulthood. Play helps children to practice, experience and modify skills as they move through different developmental stages. Parents are pivotal in aiding each child grow and progress through play developmentally by engaging in diverse types of play.
PHYSICAL PLAY – parents can facilitate the child’s movement around the current environment and/or provide the child with opportunities to move about in a variety of environments – visits to the park, stores, libraries, walks around a neighborhood, restaurants, museums, activities in the home such as follow the leader, obstacle courses, stairs/ramps, etc.
MANIPULATIVE PLAY – parents can provide children with opportunities to control or master an activity by providing:
Infants/babies – rattles, textured teething rings, cause and effect toys, stacking toys, busy boxes, cloth books.
Toddlers/preschoolers – puzzles, cause and effect toys, stuffed animals, plastic kitchen tubs/ware, drums/maracas/xylophones, blocks, balls, cardboard books
SYMBOLIC PLAY – parents provide the child with opportunities to use more imaginative skills. The child is encouraged to use objects, actions, or ideas to represent other objects, actions, and ideas by engaging with stuffed animals, doll house/fire station/farm/barn/school bus, wooden/plastic animals, doctor/vet kits, toy toolbox, toy cars/trains, etc.
DRAMATIC PLAY – parent provides opportunities which allow the child’s imagination, vocabulary, turn taking skills, attention span and self-regulation skills to grow and develop. The parent allows the child to accept and assign roles and then act them out – restaurant, doctor’s office, birthday party, post office, baby nursery, lawn care, house maintenance, etc.
GAMES – parents provide age-appropriate games which encourage the child to take turns and follow the rules. Children under 4 prefer to play games allowing for rules to be changed, while older children may enjoy the competition and develop problem-solving skills.
Remember, PLAY is work for our children, but it is also pleasant, amusing, engaging, and significant!