A child’s growth is an important marker of his health and development. Early play skills in children are an essential part of their growth. For children, play is all about having fun. Any activity, structured or unstructured, is considered play. But play is much more than just a fun activity. As children grow, they go through different stages of play development.
While playing, children learn and develop important skills which they will continue to use throughout their lifetime. Problem solving, creativity, or willingness to take risks are a few of the skills developed through play. Children who use their imagination and play pretend in safe environments learn about their emotions, what interests them, and how to adapt to situations. When children play with each other, they are given the chance to learn how to network with others and behave in various social situations.
The points below explain how children’s play skills change by age as they grow and develop social abilities:
• Unoccupied Play (3 Months):
The baby is just making a lot of movements with its arms, legs, hands, feet, etc. They learn and discover how their body moves.
• Solitary Play (2 Years):
A child plays alone. They are not interested in playing with others quite yet.
• Spectator/Onlooker Behavior (2 Years):
A child begins to watch other children playing but does not play with them.
• Parallel Play (2+ Years):
A child plays alongside or near others but does not play with them.
• Associate Play (3-4 Years):
A child starts to interact with others during play, but there is not a large amount of interaction. A child might be doing an activity related to the kids around him but might not actually be interacting with another child.
• Cooperative Play (4+ years):
A child plays together with others and has interest in both the activity and other children involved in playing. They are participating in a cooperative play.
How can parents help?
Parents must consider buying toys that engage children. Toys like blocks, dolls and stuffed animals, wagons, art supplies, musical instruments, dress up clothes, balls, sandboxes and housekeeping or gardening tools intend to keep children busy and test their creativity.
While children do need time to play alone and with other children without adult intervention, research shows that playtime with parents is also important. Playing with parents makes children feel loved. Parents are encouraged to play with their kids on a regular basis.
Parents need to put up a habit of spending quality time with their children right from their infancy. When infants grow up, keeping them busy with toys is not the only way to have an overall development in them. It is important to avoid electronic toys as it may have a negative impact on the brain. Parents should gradually involve with educating children on patience, problem-solving, social skills and creativeness. Parents should also involve children in reading books since it is beneficial for them.
These are life lessons that will always help a child in everyday life. Being well-versed with skills early in life will ensure that the child is ready for the future with problem-solving, creative and sensible abilities that will get him ready for the future.
The author is Managing Director, Cornerstone Therapy Solutions
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