Why is it so important that we give our children opportunity for free play?
How could sending my child to an enrichment activity possibly harm their development?
Joan Almon explores the rational behind the “play principle”…
“creative play is a central activity in the lives of healthy young children. It helps children weave together all the elements of life as they experience it. It allows them to digest life and make it their own. It is an outlet for the fullness of their creativity, and it is an absolutely critical part of their childhood. With creative play, children blossom and flourish; without it, they suffer a serious decline.”
A trip to the store becomes so much more when you take a little extra time and go at the right time!
Go when your child isn’t tired or hungry
Talk to your child about what you need and what you are passing.
Let them touch the cold milk, the warm deli case, the furry sweater or the smooth boots
Talk to the about the steps you take when you shop, find the item, put it in your basket, carry the item to the till, pay for the item, bring it home.
Encourage them to help you carry & pick out the things you need and talk to the sales people you encounter.
Let them help pay and talk about money
Go home before your child is hungry or tired
What could be more exciting than a trip across the ocean to dig up buried treasure? And what if your ship turned into a deep dark cave where a dragon lived and waited? Or maybe it is a table for a tea party with your stuffed animals.
For a toddler their world can be transformed with the flick of a light switch or the dump of a box. Even a simple trip to the grocery store is exciting. They learn through their play and the environment that they are raised in. A rich environment filled with discovery, imagination and new ideas will grow an inquisitive mind hungry for more learning. Their days are made up of the moments you create whether it is baking cookies, or buying milk include them in your tasks and you will both have more fun.
This imaginitive play that goes on during the toddler years can develop our ability to reason, think logically and solve problems later in our adult lives. As your little toddler pretends to stir the pot or sweep the floor thier imagination is working on the ideas to put his teddy to bed and feed the cat lunch. Soon their toys will come alive as your child gives them a voice with a seemingly endless monolouge where there was once only shrieks of excitement.
Toddlers love to explore spaces and climb over, through, and into things. Things to try to find….
Stuffed animal or toy
Large cardboard boxes
A large flat sheet
A soft ball
A large plastic laundry basket
Anything you think would be fun
Build your obstacle course! Get them to take their stuffed animal with them for security! Open the cardboard boxes to make tunnels to crawl through maybe get them to roll the ball through the tunnel as well, then throw the ball into the basket. Pile pillows on the floor to climb over, place a sheet over two chairs or a table to wiggle under. Get them to try and walk on the skipping rope.
Not only is it fun but it helps toddlers learn concepts such as up, down, over, under, strengthens their muscles and control over their bodies.
When your child is pretending let them take the lead, but feel free to make suggestions and add your own ideas. If they seem stuck maybe offer a few words of encouragement or advice. Making a pretend breakfast can be a wonderful opportunty to teach manners. Dressing up a doll can be an opportunity to learn the order of how things go on. Setting up a train track and driving a train on it takes patience and many problem solving skills as they figure out how the pieces fit together and eventually how to join it all together in a loop. Learning through play is all about being together and having fun.