February 18, 2011

The Perks of Play

This information comes from the February issue of Baby Talk.

An enriched play environment is critical to baby's development and teaches skills they will use later on in life. Here are the top ten reasons for play.

Play makes kids smarter. Turn off the TV and educational DVD's  and pull out the dolls, cars, balls and bubbles.

Play helps social development. Whether it's a play date or a trip to the playground, provide opportunities for your tot to interact with children their age. These moments build the foundation for future social relationships and exert external pressure for them to act in socially desirable ways.

Play helps develop impulse control. Don't be quick to create play agenda when hanging out with your child or hosting a play date with others. Give children the room and the materials (such as balls, boxes and shape sorters) to create "free" play on their own terms.

Play reduces stress. If you're facing what is likely to be an anxiety-provoking situation for your baby (doctor's visit, holiday dinner with unfamiliar faces) try to arrive early with toys and enjoy play time with your child beforehand. This will help redirect focus away from the anxiety and settle him into a new environment through familiar stimuli.

Play improves concentration, attention span and memory. Instead of getting mad when your child is so busy with her blocks that she doesn't look up when you call her, be patient. She is developing important skills!

Play aids in physical development. Let your toddler kick a ball, crawl through the sand at the beach or initiate a game of patty cake. Mastery of the physical body promotes self esteem and provides a feeling of accomplishment.

Play helps children understand the way things work. If they're happily occupied with one toy, don't lure them to the next. Let them experiment with repetitive play.

Play helps develop mathematical thinking. Pull out the legos. Toddlers know that if they put one lego on top of another they will have two. They know if they have two legos and you have five, you have more. Even thought they do not know the words, they are learning about addition and subtraction. Who says you have to wait until kindergarten?

Play promotes language and literacy. Give them blocks. Studies have shown babies scored 15 percent higher on their language assessment than those who didn't.

Play allows children to voice difficult feelings. Give your tot the room to act out their feelings, whatever they may be, in play. It reduces the likelihood of them acting out in real life.

Cheap Toys Work Great!
  • Blocks : prompt fine and gross motor skills
  • Bubbles: work on eye development and visual tracking
  • Dolls: prompt sociodramatic and pretend play
  • Boxes: work on imagination and creativity
  • Bowls: prompt auditory stimulation and cause and effect 

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