Playing is more than just a time of excitement and entertainment for children, it’s actually a very important period for development.
But why is playtime so vital to their growth and what activities are great for keeping your little ones engaged whilst boosting their skills?
Read on to find out exactly why playtime is so beneficial for your tot!
What is playtime?
Quite simply, playtime is allocated time in your child’s day dedicated to play. Whether they’re a toddler or young child, playtime is a crucial part of childhood where imagination can run free.
During playtime, children can engage in physical games, imaginary play, play with toys, or a mix of all three! This can be encouraged by yourself or by your tot, which is known as freely chosen playtime.
In freely chosen play, your little one picks how they wish to play without an adult leading the way, boosting their independent thinking and helping them to develop their own unique interests.
What skills can children learn from play?
There’s an abundance of skills and abilities your little one can learn from playing. Such skills include:
Fine and gross motor abilities
Playing during the day encourages your children to engage the big muscles in their legs, arms and core, and the smaller muscles in their hands. These are their fine and gross motor skills, which are central to their physical advancement.
Climbing into ball pits, stepping up wooden slides and clambering through soft play areas are fantastic ways to strengthen their large muscles, allowing them to stand up, crawl and walk confidently later on.
On the other hand, the small wooden activity puzzles and twistable cogs on baby walkers are ideal for building up strength in the fingers. This is important because these skills will aid your little one in school, enabling them to tie their own laces, hold crayons and write.
Playtime isn’t just a solo experience – your child can have plenty of fun playing with their buddies. Other children can teach your tot different ways of playing and spark their imagination through storytelling.
Additionally, it’s very important to encourage your toddler to socialise in preparation for nursery and school, where they’ll be around plenty of other kids. Early social play introduces little ones to expected social etiquette such as sharing, taking turns, listening to others, and kindness.
As your toddler grows, they’ll develop their own endearing personality and unique imagination, perfect for creative role-playing and storytelling.
During imaginary play, teddy bears come to life and really do attend picnics together, with your treasured one being the guest of honour.
Creative thinking keeps children engaged for hours and less dependent on others for entertainment – but that doesn’t mean you can’t release your inner child and join in from time to time!
Jigsaws, wooden shape sorters and bead mazes are superb critical-thinking toys that require thought in order to complete. Problem-solving games or toys provide toddlers with something to think about and a challenge to overcome, which is essential for their later life.
Additionally, puzzles introduce children to numbers and shapes from a young age, which will stand them in good stead for their first years in school.
Another fundamental trait your little one will develop through playtime is resilience – the ability to keep going even if they don’t succeed the first time. This is especially true when trying to solve puzzles or overcome obstacles posed by foam play elements, such as tunnels and steps.
Playing teaches children to persevere with the task at hand and come up with an alternative plan of action to conquer the task at hand.
Play develops skills for life
However your tot chooses to spend their playtime, they’ll be gaining a particular skill that will benefit them as they blossom from a baby or toddler into an outgoing school child.
Start by leading the way with play, and then gradually sit back and allow your kid to take control of their playtime – you won’t believe the difference until you see it for yourself.