Importance of playtime for toddlers

Understand childrens playing behaviour, as Playtime is a crucial part of your child’s emotional, social, and physical development, give them a best start.

In a bid to give their children an advantage for their future, many parents are filling their child’s after-school schedule with music classes, dance classes, art classes, sports and more. While this does have its advantages, it takes away precious playtime. Playing isn’t just about keeping your child entertained for a few hours, it gives your child physical, emotional, social and cognitive benefits.

Stages of Play

Children play in different ways depending on their age. These can be categorized as:

    • Unoccupied Play

    Between the age of 0-3 months, babies play by kicking their feet.

    • Solitary Play

    Between the age of 0-2 years, children play and entertain themselves by playing with their hands and feet

    • Spectator Behavior

    After the age of 2-years, children start watching the way other children play. They may not participate in this play.

    • Parallel Play

    At this stage, two or more children may play in the same room but may not play together.

    • Associate Play

    Between the age of 3 and 4 years, children may play separately but they may also play together.

    • Cooperative Play

    After the age of 4 years, all the earlier stages of play come together as they start playing co-operatively. They share toys and play organized games with self-made rules.

The Benefits of Play

Playtime is about a lot more than just having fun. It plays a crucial role in your child’s physical, social and emotional development. Young infants can learn a lot through play. Here are a few reasons why your child needs to play.

    • Improves Creativity

    Children don’t always need toys to play. They can entertain themselves with simple things lying around them. Cardboard boxes, a spoon, a steel bowl, a stick, these are some of the most common things children play with. When children play with these things they use their imagination and think creatively. Solo playtime is important at all ages for children to explore their imagination.

    • Better Coordination

    When your child plays with a rattle, he’s watching the rattle move. When he catches a ball, he’s coordinating eye movements with hand movements. Similarly, when children play, their nervous system coordinates sights, hearing and muscle movements while playing. This also makes the child’s movements easier and more balanced.

    • Healthier Children

    Most games are a form of exercise. Skipping rope involves jumping up and down, playing catch involves running, hopscotch involves hopping along defined routes. Each of these games builds muscle strength and pumps the heart. It keeps the body healthy and aids with weight management.

    • Builds Vocabulary

    Children learn how to communicate with their parents through gestures as well as words. However, they tend to rely more on the former. A child’s vocabulary builds faster when they play with other children rather than when they simply interact with their parents. This s because the other children may not understand their gestures, as well as their parents and they, have to start using words instead.

    • Lowers Stress

    Children too face stress. A lot of their stress is a result of stressful actions by the parents. When they play these stress levels are reduced. As a result, your child will be happier too.

    • More Sociable Behavior

    When children play with each other, they learn important social behavior. Toddlers learn to share their toys, to take turns while playing, to lead, to follow and many other such things. During cooperative play, children play together without adult interference. They learn how to make rules for their games and how to resolve conflicts through negotiation. These are all important social skills that will hold the child in good stead in his adult years.

    • Builds self-confidence

    As children play their confidence in themselves increases. Playing in teams develops a sense of belonging somewhere which in turn builds self-esteem. It also builds leadership skills that can come in use in their adult years.

Ideas for Constructive Play

As a parent, you need to give your child time and space to play in a safe space. Pick a space where they can be supervised by you or another adult. Let your child create his own games and see where his creativity takes him. Some ideas for creative play are:

Some ideas for parents to set the groundwork for creative play:

    • Make an obstacle course using household objects

    • Let your children make a fort out of sticks in the local park

    • Encourage children to pretend to play “school”, “Office”. etc.

    • Give them paper and crayons and let them explore their artistic side.


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