“To think things through, children need to play things through” – Jean Piaget
When engaging in play, children are able to explore and experience the developing world around them. Across gender and cultures children engage in play and it is during these times that our inhibitions can come down, laughter increased, and a sense of freedom discovered.
As young children become older children (and even into adulthood), play (or relaxation time) is crucial to our wellbeing and relationships. The type of play and language used changes, but the benefits remain. Whereas a young child may fight imaginary dragons, adults may join a structured sport, learn an artistic skill, or join a group with shared interests – woodworking, gaming, horticulture.
What are the benefits of play?
· Helps children feel loved
· Understand the world around them
· Build physical skills
· Develop social skills
Types of play for children? - Structured and Unstructured
Unstructured or free play is spontaneous, it just happens. Whereas structured play is an organised event that takes place at a certain time or place.
The nature of play changes dramatically as we age, but it is play still the same. So how do we engage in play with children across the developmental stages.
Playing with a newborn:
A newborns play is all about interacting with you. This is when they smile, coo or blow raspberries, and when they have some tummy time. New and different play experiences for a newborn baby helps build brain connections and assists in their growth. Play also helps a baby build muscle strength, develop their fine and gross motor skills.
Playing with a toddler
A toddlers play develops progressively from when they are a newborn and baby. It is at this time that their world exploration expands and is crucial for their confidence and relationship building, exploring their own interests, understanding textures through making mess, developing their make-believe, singing and reading stories together.
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