“Play is the royal road to childhood happiness and adult brilliance.” – Joseph Chiltern Pearce
Children learn best through play. It’s a fact that we all have been told and have seen in practice. Yet, in our minds we often differentiate it from ‘real learning’. Play is learning in the initial years and giving a head start to your little one is by encouraging productive play.
Here are a few guidelines to always consider –
Open ended play fosters greater creativity
Such play allows your child endless possibilities during playtime. There are no instructions, rules, or guides for children to follow. During open-ended play, children have the ability to make their own decisions and fully engage their creativity and imagination.
Toys like blocks, stackers, figures – that can be played in a number of ways are always a hit
Simple is the way to go
Ever seen your little one fascinated with a simple cardboard box, leaving the fancy toys behind? Take the cue – simple is often better. Complex toys with a number of different functions take away from the essence of the toy itself – often confusing your baby.
A simple ball or rattle can keep them more meaningfully engaged as they understand the toy without being over-whelmed by it. Similarly, high contrast simple images hold their attention longer compared to more complex images.
Let you kids do the playing – less batteries and noise
The incentive to actively engage decreases with toys that have batteries, lights and sounds. Your child would definitely look mesmerised, but other than pressing a few buttons, it’s the toys rather than the baby doing all the work. Instead of being an active participant in play, your child is the passive observer. On the other hand, simpler toys encourage your baby to find “new ways” to play.
Most toys come with a clearly mentioned age range. This is to actively prevent choking hazards and other related injuries. Always buy toys with smooth, rounded edges. Mouthing is also a definite concern so ensure all dyes and paints are non- toxic.
All toys should be splinter and shatter proof. In case a toy breaks, discontinue playing with it and please discard it.
Less is more
Having too many toys at eye level often distracts children. Keep a few handy (2-3) and the rest out of reach and preferably out of sight too. Keep playing with the same toys repeatedly before introducing new ones. You’ll be surprised at the innovative way your little one can play with the same toy. If possible, keep a rotation schedule for all your toys – introducing a new set on a fixed rotation schedule.
Play with purpose !!