Every night, dear husband would ask DA what he did for the day.
DA would happily reply, “I played!”
This would always lead to the daddy scratching his head, doubting whether the kids were actually learning anything as the days go by.
While play may sound trivial and unimportant, there is more to it than meets the eye.
Everyone seems to know how to play, even babies do. Give them a set of cups and they’ll start tinkering with it, essentially “playing” with it. It’s the way they learn and develop essential lifelong skills. Playing, whether indoors or outdoors, single or in groups, benefits young children by fostering imagination and creativity, problem solving skills, fine and gross motor development, and even social and language skills.
Our Play at Home
These are some of the plays that we do at home. Most of them cost nothing and yet they allow us to reap a good deal of benefits, both for our young kids and for us, as adults.
Phone Conversations One time, just for fun, I held up a mobile phone, pretended to dial, and started an imaginary conversation. DA picked the habit up and has since loved making imaginary conversations as well. We started with “talking” to people he knows, like relatives, so that he has concrete things to say, like “when are you coming to visit?”, “what are you doing today?” As he was introduced to superheroes, Spiderman, Thor, Captain America, and Hulk became his phone buddies. What’s really funny is that he makes realistic expressions and would even laugh as if his phone pal had actually said something funny. Dear husband calls us crazy whenever he hears us doing this but I say we’re just being creative and imaginative. 🙂
Stacking Cups These are great for babies in developing their fine motor skills as they learn how to pick up the cups. They also help in developing the child’s problem solving skills as he learns how to put them on top of each other. It’s so cute to watch their chubby hands manipulate the cups, willing them to fit. They might get frustrated though if they cannot do it so try to add a little help to keep them going.
Ktichen Fun While I cook in the kitchen, I let the little one do his own play there as well. He’s free to open up the cabinets and drawers and play with the things inside (no sharp utensils, of course). One of the things he came up with is this arrangement of mugs and dishes. I was so amused by it that I just had to take a picture. It’s free play and yet I can see the organization skills already.
Making a tower of cups is also our play in the kitchen. I showed him where to get the cups and how to stack them up. From time to time, he’d open up the cabinets and get them out to try a balancing act with the cups.
Running Around Every kid’s favourite! 🙂 This physical activity beats being glued to the iPad or TV anytime.
Jenga From time to time, we’d do play as a whole family. This is a good game that can include even the toddlers. While they may still need help, they can already take part in deciding how to keep the stack from falling. They also have a roaring good time when the whole thing falls down!
Playdates We haven’t been to a lot of playdates but those that we’ve been to have been fun. Playing with same-aged kids develops social and language skills among them. We’d sometimes listen to the kids’ conversation and get bewildered but they seem to understand each other well. Issues of sharing (more like non-sharing) of toys would sometimes arise though but we took it as a good teaching opportunity.
How about you? What sort of play do you do at home with your kids? 🙂
P.S. This is my volunteer work for Unilab Foundation’s project of building a #healthierPH through Play It Forward. 🙂 Read about it here.