When it comes to play time, it’s always good to follow your child’s lead. But when they want you to be more involved in brainstorming and planning their play activities, your active involvement can encourage the development of their confidence and understanding, not to mention deepen your bond as parent and child.
How your child benefits from play
Play contributes to healthy development in young children and helps them learn about themselves, each other, and their environment. It strengthens their connection to the world and sparks their intellect and curiosity. It allows them to build resilience and develop problem-solving skills to help them face future challenges.
It also encourages physical movement and activity, which in turn promotes overall health and wellness.
Further the social skills learned through play-based experiences, like sharing toys, working in groups, following rules and mechanics, and resolving conflict, can carry through into adulthood.
Parents can also benefit from participating in children’s play time. For one, it can help you see the world through their eyes. Knowing their perspective also will help you better communicate with your child.
How to create play activities for your child
Play can either be structured or unstructured:
- Structured play is guided by parent, guardian, or teacher with specific learning objectives in mind.
- Unstructured play also called “free play” is spontaneous, allowing children to explore their interests, move at their own pace, and practise decision-making skills.
A combination of both structured and unstructured play provides valuable learning experiences for both parent and child.
Play ideas to try with your child
- Recycled arts and crafts projects – Use everyday objects and materials destined for the bin in arts and crafts projects that encourage your child’s creativity. For example, help them turn a cardboard box into a house, car, robot, or animal, wherever your child’s imagination takes you. Let your child paint or decorate the empty box with art materials. You can then use the finished product to tell stories or act out imagined scenes.
- Dress-up and pretend play – Before throwing out old clothes and accessories, repurpose them into fun, colourful costumes for your child to wear. You’ll also find affordable and unusual props and costumes at op-shops. Have them dress up for story time, in which your child can act out roles from a picture book with accompanying music or sound effects.
- Puppet shows – Use puppets, or make new ones from old socks and other materials around the house, to put on shows with your child. Use storytelling, drama, song, and movement to act out scenes from your child’s favourite picture book, or scenes from day-to-day life. The puppets could be shopkeepers, firefighters, doctors, or animals – whatever your child wants them to be.
- Music and movement – Incorporate song, music, dance, and movement into everyday play activities with your child. Encourage them to march, stamp, roll, twirl, hop, and slide. Play their favourite song to get them to sing, dance, and move. Dance and music will help your child develop a sense of rhythm while songs, poems, and nursery rhymes will help them understand patterns and sequences.
- Blocks and puzzles – Educational toys like wooden blocks and puzzles can help children develop their fine motor skills as well as their problem-solving and reasoning skills. These toys will also fuel your child’s imagination. Encourage your child to build houses, skyscrapers, or castles with colourful wooden blocks and help them solve number or alphabet boards.
Teachers Choice carries a range of wooden educational toys for young children. Browse our collection for high-quality toys to enrich your child’s play time.