6 Ideas for Kids to Develop Through Play Time

Just because your kid hasn't begun formal schooling doesn't mean you can't help them develop. Play time is just as important as formal lessons, especially during the formative years where a lot of development takes place. While your child is spending his or her days playing, use these tips to make that time as meaningful as you can.

1. Introduce other children.

You don’t need to come up with a schedule of activities for that next play date. Plop both kids in a room full of toys and games and stay nearby. By two and a half, your kid is developed enough to play with other kids, not just alongside. That means they’ll take each other’s cues, play the same game together and interact in a healthy way.

2. Encourage dress up play.

Pretending to be someone else is an excellent way to build empathy, objective understanding, and social skills. It lets them explore attitudes and behaviors, and give their imaginations a workout. Include some dress up costumes in the play room that your kids can easily access. Don’t discourage your child from using ordinary items as costumes (like a pot for a racecar helmet).

3. Schedule creative play time.

Structured play (like arts and crafts, lessons, or reading) has its benefits and should certainly be a part of every child’s routine, but your kids also need time for creative, unhindered play. Let your child play whatever he likes in whatever manner he likes. Don’t constrict games because they don’t make sense to you. If he flies his truck through the air or lassos a horse with a sock, let him explore and experiment.

4. Rotate some toys out of the playroom.

Interestingly, children can be overwhelmed by too many toys. If you have a generous family, your playroom might be filled to the roof. When your child has too many toys, he doesn’t fully experiment with each. Instead, he tends to play with the toy in the manner it was intended, which doesn’t work out his imaginative muscle. Store some toys in the attic or basement, and every so often switch them around.

5. Play somewhere else.

Eventually, your home will become unstimulating to your child. The blue carpet won’t be a river, it’s just carpet now. The bathroom isn’t an alien planet any longer; too many baths have ruined that room’s fun. Take your kids and a few toys one day and just change the scenery. Take them to a friend’s house, a play center, or simply outside.

6. Switch off the TV.

The TV has its place and I’m not saying it’s bad for kids, but it doesn’t offer much in terms of development benefits. It’s an easy form of entertainment that doesn’t require much brain activity. It’s better to let your kids play pretend or toy cars or read than zone out in front of the TV. If you can, put your TV in a closeable cabinet so it’s out of sight.

I understand, however, that there are some great programs for kids that you should take advantage of, and sometimes you just need something to occupy your child while you take a quick shower.

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