Play is one way that young children learn. There are 3 kinds of play that your child needs: playing with parents, playing with other children, and playing alone. Here are some ways to help your child learn through play.
When you play with your child, it helps your child learn to read faces, learn words, and respond to what happens. You can start playing with your baby very early. For example:
As your child gets older, you can start rolling balls to your child, playing with dolls, or taking your child to the park to play on swings or slides. To help your child learn language and still have fun, you can point things out when you walk or drive. For example, "See that big, red, fire truck? The light on the top is red. What else is red?" What you teach should be right for the age of your child.
For school-age children, you might ride a bike with your child, play video games, or play sports such as soccer. Time spent together helps build a strong bond between you and your child.
Model the kind of behavior you expect your child to have. For example, if you would like your child to read more, let her see you reading. Show your child how to help you do things. If the living room needs cleaning up, say, "Let's do this together. This is your room too. Let's get it cleaned up so we can go out for ice cream."
Being able to play by herself helps your child develop self-esteem and confidence. It can also help her learn to stay focused. When your child plays alone, you should check on your child to make sure she is safe.
Teach your child to play by herself for longer and longer periods of time. For toddlers, playing with a toy is a good activity. For older, school-age children, reading or hobbies may be best. Choose activities that your child likes and try to let your child play alone at about the same time each day. Limit total TV and video watching to no more than 1 to 2 hours a day.
At first, your child may only want to play by herself for a very short time (1 to 5 minutes). You can help increase how long your child can stay focused if you make a game of it.
Playing with other children teaches your child how to get along with others. Children start playing beside each other around the age of 2 years, but aren’t good at sharing. They actually start playing together between the ages of 4 and 6 years. Here are some ideas to help teach your child to play with others.
Play helps your child learn to solve problems and learn how to share and not always get her own way. Play lets your child see what happens when she takes action. Play can build confidence - and it's fun for your child too.