Play influences a big portion of a child’s life and development. Not only is the act of playing fun, but supports childhood growth, learning and social interaction. It is also a great way to get the family involved together. As a parent you want to make sure you are encouraging sensory rich play, manipulative play and promote imaginative or pretend play.
1. Encourage Sensory Rich Play
Sensory play allows your child to stimulate their senses of smell, touch, sound, vision and movement. Using toys such as balls, sand and water toys, swings, magnets, finger paint and slides are interactive ways to engage the senses.
2. Encourage Manipulative Play
Manipulative play helps improve the child’s eye-hand coordination and dexterity when your child explores items with their hands. Playing with toys such as puzzles, beads, play dough, LEGOs, board games and lacing cards are entertaining ways to keep your child engaged. Offer choices and allow your child to pick their preference.
3. Promote Imaginative/Pretend Play
Promoting children to use their imagination encourages creativity, role playing and provides an opportunity to rehearse social skills. Children are able to interact with things like dolls, stuffed animals, toy furniture, puppets and telephones to act out various experiences they may have had or something that is of some interest to them.
Toys do not have to be expensive or complicated to be beneficial. Choose toys that are appropriate to the child’s age and/or maturity level to reach the full potential of the activity. Household items, such as pots and pans, empty boxes and wooden spoons are handy and can even bring out the imagination in children.