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How play can be most beneficial to your child

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As we celebrate Children’s Day next week, we need to remember that play is an aspect that is vital to the development and growth of children. While it is said that exposure to television, which is described as a sedentary activity, is not healthy for children especially at the formative years of ages zero to five, activities in form of play helps to define their overall wellness.

Play has so many definitions and to mention a few, it is a concept where children organise and make sense of their social words as they engage actively with people, objects and representations, this is according to Friedrich Froebel. While Maria Montessori describes play as the work of a child, Founder of Playandlearnng Sheun Akinbola, however, defines plays as being beneficial to the child, parents and educators.

The benefits of play for the child include language skills (reading), development of social and emotional skills (sharing and taking turns), creativity and imagination (dramatic play, LEGO blocks), brain development and the simple truth that play is a cherished part of childhood.

Akinbola said that the benefits of play for parents and educators include bonding time with the child and seeing things at their level for a better relationship.

While a child is playing, a child is learning and so it is important to encourage learning through play in the homes and schools by inculcating the following:
. Creating a “Yes” space: Parents and educators should create a space(s) for playing and learning that the child can go to. This space(s) will have their stuff (toys/ materials) for play so there is less use of the words “No” and “Don’t”. It teaches the child to be responsible as they learn to take care of the space by clearing up afterwards.

. Decluttering: Children get easily bored and sometimes over-stimulated when they have many toys and a parent has to be intentional about buying toys/ materials. There is, therefore, a need to declutter by sorting toys and taking out those that are old and worn- out toys that haven’t been touched in a long while. They can be donated to charity or sold as thrifts.
. Toy rotation: This has to do with storage of toys and bringing them out when needed especially with the use of “Themes”. If a theme for the week is perhaps “transportation”, we bring out toys related to it like toy cars, books on transportation, sensory bin, etc. Do note that the child’s favourite toy can stay as a constant to avoid upsetting the child.

. Teaching independence: We can help the child become independent by providing things that will aid independence like child-sized chairs and tables, low shelving units for books, toys and materials or baskets/cartons, child-sized toilets or potty seats, low-wash hand basin or a stool to reach the sink.

. Books: Books are very important for language skills and help a child learn just about anything.
. Outdoors: The great outdoors has a lot of concrete objects we can use for teaching. Learning about the environment is also important. Take the child on a road trip, a walk, smell the flowers, visit the bank, marketplace, etc
. Healthy Lifestyle: Health is wealth and a child needs to be healthy in order to learn at all. A child can also learn through eating healthy meals (preparation, identification of fruits and vegetables, objects in the home/kitchen, preparation of simple meals, etc), exercise, good sleep routine and reduction of screen time which is not limited to the television alone.

The parenting enthausiat stressed that there are toys and materials that promote play and they include soft balls, stacking rings/cups, balloons, books, musical instruments, bubble maker, water, sand, art and craft supplies, wooden blocks/ building blocks, stuffed animals, puzzles, mirrors, etc

“Play also helps children develop skills they will need later in life. We can help them develop motor skills which are the movements and actions of the bone structures, categorised into two groups: Fine and Gross Motor skills; they work together to provide coordination.


In this article:
Ijeoma Thomas-Odia
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