Playing with children
Children learn while they are playing. Unstructured play or
creative play experiences provide is the best opportunity for learning to occur.
Children need a balance of unstructured and structured or
guided play throughout their day. Most of your child's time should be spent in ‘free play’ experiences,
with you either participating or observing. Only very short periods of time should be spent in structured
activities or adult directed guided play.
The best type of play activities for children is based around their interests and
level of development. When playing with children, support their play by encouraging and extending the play, the
longer quality play experiences last the more learning occurs.
Playing with your child is beneficial for both you and your child.
It is a way for you to really get to know each other at a more intimate level.
American Academy of
Pediatrics discourages media use by children younger than 2 years. The Academy's
"Unstructured play allows
a child's mind to grow, problem-solve, think innovatively and develop reasoning skills. The importance of
parents sitting down to play with their children cannot be overstated."
Your participation in their play will enhance their
enjoyment and may also increase the length of time they take part in the play experience. Participation at the
right intensity is important – be a partner in their play.
Play with your child by sitting on the floor and getting down to
their level. Physical closeness and one on one communication will build a stronger relationship and
Provide an environment that is a safe place to play with materials
they can manipulate safely. Your job is to stimulate them so that opportunities for learning occur.
When playing with kids think about the types of play experiences
that will promote imagination and stimulate creative thinking. There are many types of kids play that will
promote creative learning. A great way to provide opportunities for learning to occur is by providing open
ended play experiences such as:
- play dough
- pieces of material
- water play
- dress ups
Children playing with open-ended play materials have experiences
that allow them to learn problem solving skills and also have opportunities for self expression.
Throughout the day children need:
- Opportunities for active kids play such as;
- ball games
- Opportunities for quiet kids play such as;
- reading together
- board games
- drawing or painting
- cutting and pasteing
- writing stories