Playing is the way children learn about the world around them. Not only is it fun, but it is critical to children’s development. Through play, babies and toddlers try out new skills, explore their imagination and creativity, and learn about relationships with other people.
The role of fantasy
In the time spent with kids, it’s important to encourage dramatic play. One of the best parts of play is pretending. Fantasy has a big part in a child’s world. Provide old clothes, shoes, handbags and hats for dress up. Also provide props to be used during play, such as pots and pans. Children love the opportunity to handle grown-up materials.
A welcoming environment
Each child should have the opportunity to play in a child-friendly place. Turn off the television and make sure breakables are put away, and you’ll be on the way to having a wholesome play environment for your child. Words of encouragement without “taking over” the play are also helpful. Try asking open-ended question such as, “What would happen if…” or “How else could you use…” This helps to expand their play, while keeping it child-directed.
Discover new places
It may mean that you go somewhere else to play such as the park or the pool. Another way is to take play outdoors, such as moving your child’s play kitchen outside. Sometimes just a change of scenery will promote new ways to play.
Spend time together
Some ideas to spend some time with your host-kid?
Play outdoors. Push kids on swings. Make mud pies. Go on a hike around the neighborhood. Take a nature walk in your backyard.
Play games – card games – board games – silly and wacky kids games. Help them learn to take turns, how to win and how to loose. Praise them. Encourage them. Laugh with them.
Get involved in a craft project together. Build a jigsaw puzzle as a family. Bake cookies. Paint a picture.
Listen to music together. Sing along. Play rhythm instruments along with music. Get out the guitar or keyboard and make music.
Read a book together. Ask questions. Ask them to change the story or make up a new one.
Watch a movie together. Find out what they liked – how they felt. Discover the child’s interests. Comment on and discuss any bothersome content either words or actions.
Play kid games like: Follow the Leader – Guess What I Am? – Hide and Seek.
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