Is Play Necessary For Development?
The answer is yes. Play is integral for your toddler’s growth related to social, emotional, physical, and cognitive development. This is your toddler’s way of gleaning information about herself and the surrounding environment, and she utilizes all her senses to accomplish it.
What does that feel like? What sound does this make when I squish it? What happens when I push those or yank this or climb on top of that?
Children’s play is based in exploration, and your child wants to run any experiment possible, even tossing a bowl of milk and cereal off her tray. Child experts like to say that play is a child’s job (and picking up after playtime must be the work of moms and dads).
When your child becomes a toddler, her play moves to be more imaginative and complicated.
Through play, she develops necessary skills and qualities, like problem resolution, curiosity, independent actions, and creativity. It’s also important to explore feelings and family values and develop interpersonal skills. Before your toddler begins feeling comfortable sharing her favorite stuffed animal with her brother, she may offer it to another toy, like a doll. Her first words, like “please” and “thank you”, may pop out while hosting an tea party for dolls. And who can resist using a perfectly good Band-aid the first time a toddler says the teddy got hurt?
What Style Of Play Is Best For My Toddler?
This depends on the current development stage. Because play is what your toddler uses to learn about her environment, the abilities she’s developing right now are your biggest hints for choosing the best activities.
For example, if your 12-month-old is experimenting with cause and effect, choose a simplified version of hide and seek behind tables and chairs. If your 20 months old can’t get enough of climbing stairs, find a safe staircase where she can practice while you carefully supervise.
Following are some types of playtime activities your child may be intrigued by at different stages:
Interacting with other people is important, especially the first year of life. Infants prefer to smirk, coo, and laugh. Older babies prefer simple interactive games such as peekaboo.
Object play. Feeling, mouthing, tossing, pulling, and otherwise testing things is fascinating for children between 4 and 10 months old.
Functional and representational play. Mimicking others and learning to use familiar items the correct way, maybe pushing a toy lawn mower through the lawn or calling daddy on a TV remote, is the perfect amusement for 12- to 21-month-olds as their imaginations develop.
Early symbolic play. This category of play, beginning around 24 months, essentially creates something from nothing. Your child might play with a cereal box while pretending it’s a school bus, making horn or motor noises or pretend to eat a colored plastic ring, telling you it’s a doughnut.
Role play . Around age 30 to 36 months your child will start taking on new roles. Pretending to be a doctor, teacher, or mommy is now common.
How Can I Maximize My Child’s Playtime Learning?
Try these suggestions:
Treat playtime as more than just toy time. Playtime can be any enjoyable activity that involves people, things, or activities. Anything from blowing bubbles to dancing to music to splashing in the bath to running around the room counts as playtime. If you’ve ever seen a child enamored with a corrugated box, you know how loose the rules are.
Play along with your child. You’re the ultimate teaching toy, and any game seems more fun if you can share it with your child. Work language in while you play and you’ll help develop her language skills.
Introduce new activities when your child is happy and rested.
Children have unique tolerances for stimulation, so break when your child’s had enough. When she seems uninterested, fussy, or sleepy, it’s break time. Both playing solo and with others is beneficial, so give your child a chance at each type. Let your child pick games and direct her play. You can, and should, suggest new games or new options, but allow your child be the director. After all, play should be fun, and if there’s one thing your child is a professional at already, it’s having a great time.