When children are little it is important that they be allowed to play freely as a means to promote their cognitive, physical, social and emotional well-being. Believe it or not, play is actually one of the biggest ways children learn and develop. Parents who play with their children also give them the opportunity to build a strong bond. I have teamed up with a nursery in Somerset to explore how play aids child development in further detail.
Being curious, having an imagination, sharing and trying new things are all aspects of play and all qualities that will be useful throughout your child’s life, not just when they’re little. With that in mind, it’s wise for parents to encourage their kids to play as much as possible and not always in the same environment or with the same toys. Try and disguise learning activities as play; go exploring or carry out experiments. Different activities will promote the development of different skills:
- Physical play, like a ball game, will help your child develop hand-eye coordination, strength and flexibility. A jigsaw, on the other hand, will help your child develop mental skills, like logic.
- Dramatic/pretend play is vital for social and emotional development. It allows children to construct their own version of the world and practise various roles.
- Outdoor play allows children to learn about the environment and meets their multi-sensory needs.
Every game your child plays will have a unique set of advantage, so parents should never discourage their children from playing. Of course, children excel at different speeds and in different areas, so don’t expect your son or daughter to be fantastic at everything. While encouraging them to play and learn is good, don’t push them too hard or compare them to other children.