Playtime for our children is far more than just fun and games. Not only is it a valuable educational opportunity, but it also contributes to the development of social and physical skills. Activities initiated by children and lead by imagination promotes significant growth, however there are games we can play with children to further stimulate their development. There are 5 key activities every parent should know about, which stimulate learning through play!
1. Watch the creative juices flow
There’s nothing more exciting than watching little creative light bulbs flick on in your child’s mind. Creative play activities can seem complex, however their free-flowing nature presents the possibility to take your child’s mind absolutely anywhere. Visual art and construction are excellent creative avenues for children and the best part is, it doesn’t require expensive toys! Use a cardboard box to create a house or a robot, use plastic lids, dry pasta and other ‘threadables’ to make jewellery, or grab some old newspaper and glue for paper mâché. These activities give children creative freedom and it teaches them to branch out and experiment, rather than conform to someone else’s ideas. Most importantly, encourage your child and provide positive reinforcement! Receiving praise for their creative works will boost their self-esteem.
2. A roll of the dice!
For generations we’ve played board games as a means to spend quality, family time together. It’s a great activity to do as a team, and encourages a little bit of competitive fun. However, playing board games can have a bigger impact on your child’s development than first thought. Just the simple act of playing teaches them vital social skills including verbal communication, sharing, waiting, taking turns and enjoyable interaction with the others playing. Board games also tend to have relatively strict boundaries, comparable to the boundaries present in our complex society. Following these guidelines helps children to become more mature, organised and socially competent.
3. Embrace the elements
It sounds simple, but the natural elements that surround us can be used as a tool for science and maths development in young children. Playing with sand and water can be formulated into a fun and educational lesson. Teach your children that water is fluid, not solid and that it can be measured in different sized containers. Incorporating a sand and water play module into your backyard will keep the whole family young at heart and will encourage cognitive recognition, as your children are constantly exposed to these elements and textures. It’s important to introduce play-based learning in the early stages of life, so that children can develop skills long before they start school.
4. Having a ball
Children love ball games and the skills developed through these games are essential in life. Ball games introduce children to sport and physical activities. It promotes a healthy and active lifestyle and gets children excited at the prospect. Children learn vital movement skills including hand-eye coordination, gross and fine motor skills, timing, prediction, force and good sportsmanship all through the simple fun of throwing or kicking a ball around. Ball games encourage children to play and learn whilst they enjoy some fresh air and healthy exercise!
5. Role play
Take ideas from your children’s favourite books and act them out. Initiate this activity with your child and they’ll develop the confidence and skills to do it on their own and with their peers. Role-playing allows children to express themselves and creates the perfect opportunity for them to use new vocabulary they’ve learned from books.
Recognising the benefits of play for children’s development is highly beneficial for their growth in the early stages of life. Encourage your children to have fun whilst learning valuable skills and lessons!