WHAT IS PLAY?
Play is one of the main ways in which children learn and develop.
- It helps to build self worth by giving a child a sense of their own abilities and to feel good about themselves
- It’s fun, children often become very absorbed in what they are doing
- Important to a child’s development, it is an integral part of a child’s Early Years Foundation Stage and supports their learning journey too.
- Young children can develop many skills through the power of play. They may develop their language skills, emotions, creativity and social skills.
- Helps to nurture imagination and give a child a sense of adventure. Through this, they can learn essential skills such as problem solving, working with others, sharing and much more. In turn, this helps them develop the ability to concentrate.
WHAT CAN HELP THEM DEVELOP?
Providing children with a range of playthings will help them learn in a number of ways:
- Sand and water play can be an early introduction to science and maths, such as, learning that water is fluid, not solid and that it can be measured in different sized containers.
- Playing with dough or clay, drawing and painting pictures, dressing up, playing with dolls can encourage creativity, imagination and expression of feelings.
- Building blocks, jigsaws and shape sorters can help with recognising different shapes and sizes, putting things in order and developing logic.
- Playing ball games, dancing, running, climbing all help to develop body movement, strength, flexibility and co-ordination skills.
- Games help with turn taking, sharing and mixing with others.Singing, playing simple music instruments help to develop rhythm, listening and hearingPlay also allows children to relax, let off steam, develop social skills such as concentration and co-operation, encourages the development of the imagination, develops motor skills and teaches self expression.
It’s important that learning is fun at this age. It needs to be about doing things with them that they like. They might find unusual ways of doing things – for a toddler, building blocks aren’t just for making towers, and paint can be used without a brush! Show them how things work, but if they want to experiment, let them.
Children learn through all their senses through taste, touch, vision, hearing and smelling. They will watch those around them and copy language and behaviour.
It’s also good to talk to them a lot, about everyday things while you are cooking or cleaning.
This will give you a chance to teach them how things work and they will be able to ask you questions.
Get ready for lots of why’s?
Don’t push your child too hard. Children develop in their own ways and in their own time. Try not to compare them to other children. You can also encourage reading, by reading to and with them. Look at the pictures together; this will help younger children make sense of the words.
Dramatic play is essential to a child’s social (or emotional) development and can play a large part in their physical development too.
Children make sense of the world in which they live by acting out situations before they happen and by copying what they see around them. Pretend (or dramatic) play contributes to a child’s emotional development as they learn to see life from a different viewpoint and allows them to ‘trial’ situations before they happen.
Most children are naturally imaginative and will happily talk away to someone on their toy phone or drive the sofa to the shops, and this creativity should be actively encouraged! This type of play also develops children’s imaginations which are closely linked to intellectual development.
Outdoor play helps them to learn lots about the changing environment and gives them the opportunity to use their whole body and develop their gross motor skills.
It can meet their multi-sensory needs and can give them a love for the outdoors. Whether it is messy play, creative or role play, it is an essential part of learning.
Encouraging your young child to explore outdoor play is extremely beneficial and necessary for their development.
AGE APPROPRIATE TOYS
Age 1-2 Years
Your baby is fascinated by cause and effect and will enjoy any toy that responds to their actions and makes use of newly acquired motor skills,” says psychologist Robin Goodman, Ph.D., director of NYU Child Study Center’s Website, www.aboutourkids.org. For example, they’ll love toys that allow them to hit a ball with a hammer as well as toys with buttons that cause music to play or characters to pop up. Some high-tech toys for this age will name a letter, a shape, or a number when your baby presses a button and they enjoy interacting with these toys and being exposed to language.
Toys to try:
- Stacking rings
- Alphabet Blocks
- Push- or pull-toys that make noise or have pieces that pop up or move
- Hammering sets that let kids hammer pegs or balls through holes
- Simple, sturdy musical instruments like tambourines, drums, or maracas
- Shape sorters
- Large play vehicles, such as a school bus or a fire engine, plus plastic people that ride in them
- Puzzles with four or five pieces
- Rubber ducks or toy boats for bathtime
Two to four
There’s a massive change and interest in learning ability at two to four and it’s a good time to introduce interactive educational toys that teach maths and verbal skills, such as phonics boards or mini computers.
Toys to try:
- Electronic phonics toys
- Large lego pieces
- Action figures or barbies
- Dress up clothes
- Board games that don’t require reading like Hungry Hungry Hippos or even Operation.
- Remote control cars
- Bikes with stabilizers
- No iPad? No problem. Chad Valley £5 argos tablet.
- Favourite of all time – when their imagination kicks in! Doctors kit. They could even pretend to be vets, beauticians, teachers, The Hulk, Moana from …. Moana etc.
- Painting money boxes! Can be any generic one really from the age they can start to want to create with their hands – my daughter was about one but my son was about three when he started showing interest.
- Colouring books and sticking things!My eldest when she was younger drawing!
- Little Brian Art paint sticks
- Orchard Toys Puzzles
- Hape Toys
- Mam Teethers
- Playing with blocks
- Be My bear! Stuff your own teddies.
Four to six
Children enjoy allsorts of more detailed toys requiring different levels of concentration like outdoor sports to compete. They acquire older interests, abilities and hobbies.
Toys to try:
- Craft kits
- Baby Alive Doll
- Chocolate Lolly Kit
- Hatch dino eggs
- Painting Rocks
- Campbell Read and Play Book Parties / Kids Activities
- Bath Slime
- Cozmo the Robot SDK
- Eat, Sleep, Doodle – drawing matts
- Basic science kits
- More elaborate science kits – I bought my daughter the glow in the dark kit!
- Outdoor sporting equipment – my three year old just used it to whack.
- Intricate construction sets like train sets are fun!
- Board games like Scrabble, Monopoly and snakes and ladders.
- Model kits
- Climbing activities
- Magnets, magnifying glasses, and telescopes
- Craft kits such as Willow Willow & Wild Craft Box
- Game Boys
- Computer and video games
- Construction sets, such as Legos or K’Nex
- Sports equipment
- Board games that involve strategy, including chess and checkers
- For the older ones who won’t eat the mini figures! – little houses (my daughter loves her Shopkins)
- Sylvanian Families (my fave! Personally age wise I think they should have these when they can respect toys better and look after them better as they can cost a bit – so about 25 years old then?!) I think it all depends on your child, for example our 3 year old son doesn’t play with them but I believe he’s too young – there’s so much variety!
- Be My bear! Stuff your own teddies
Remember all children can play with whatever toys whatever the gender.