Learning and Play - Maximize the Value of Your Childs Playtime
By Paul Fox
Why Play Is Important Play is one
of the many ways that children learn. Children who have access to
a wide range of well selected toys and an opportunity to
experience varied playtime are more likely to be challenged and
stimulated. Studies have found that they reach higher levels of
intellectual development, socialization and emotional development
regardless of their sex, race or social class.
Parents and carers should be looking to encourage
play with toys that stimulate mental development and are
appropriate for the child's abilities. Toys should also be
responsive to the child's movements and provide feedback for the
child (either physically, visually or auditory) when manipulated.
Whether playing alone or with others, quietly or with enthusiasm,
play is the way children explore their world, learn new sensations
and create imaginary friends and places.
Learning New Skills When a child
reaches for a toy they immediately begin to develop their early
hand and eye coordination, strength, balance and agility. Toys
such as activity centers, block letters, shape sorters and games
will help your child develop many new skills. Toys and games that
are used with playmates encourage sharing, cooperation and
communication. Remember that very young children especially, find
the idea of sharing difficult until they have understood the
concept of ownership. Wooden blocks and construction toys will
assist in developing spatial play, whilst jigsaws, dominoes,
puzzles and other board games are great for logical play. Physical
activities will vary depending on age but using balls and skittles
and push and pull along toys are excellent for developing strength
and coordination. Discussion, singing and story telling can
accompany books and many other types of word and picture games.
Parents and carers should encourage the use of children's' dolls
(male and female), action and character figures, costumes for
dressing up and hand and finger puppets for imaginative play.
Research has shown that through play children
learn how to plan, communicate and solve problems. Play encourages
them to develop language and social skills and to use imagination
and creativity to develop relationships and playact out
Children who are encouraged and supported to play
are happier, better adjusted, more cooperative and more popular
with their peers than those who do not have the time set aside to
play and explore the world. Children will have a tendency to play
longer when a wide selection of toys is available. It is not
always the most expensive or imaginative toys that provide the
greatest stimulation and enjoyment. It is often better to have a
selection of different toys than one very expensive one.
Play Pointers To enable children
to get maximum benefit from their playtime they should feel safe,
secure and comfortable in their surroundings, with supportive
carers present and a wide assortment of toys to encourage varied
You should try to choose toys that are fun for
your child to play with. To be fun they should match the child's
maturity and challenge his or her skills. Try to have a selection
of toys that offer a wide variety of features and activities
(providing feedback for the child), bright primary colors and
black and white contrasting coloring, different textures and a
selection of sounds which will ensure continued stimulation and
interest for the child.
From an early age children should be encouraged to
be involved in the selection of their toys. Any good toy shop
should allow you to try out the toys with your child and enable
you to gauge your child's reaction to the product. Toy shops
should also offer advice on suitable products for you to try based
on experience and recommendations and advice on safety aspects as
Playtime should be all about fun for your child
and for you so encourage playtime whenever you both feel it is
appropriate. Do not force children to play or push them to play
games that may be too difficult for them or if they are just not
in the mood! Also remember that children also need to know how to
play on their own, especially to develop imaginative play. Always
allow them some playtime alone to create their own games and learn
to enjoy their own company. Do not feel guilty about leaving your
child to play alone (supervised of course) as you will see the
benefit of this as your child grows up.
Most importantly enjoy playtime and have fun!
If you are looking for a wide selection of wooden toys and other great value children toys please visit
Beyond the Rainbow to discover a wonderland of traditional and unusual wooden toys encouraging varied and
inclusive playtime for both carer and child alike.