Child’s play was often considered something kids did alone to keep themselves entertained. Now we know that play is more than just fun – it promotes brain development and is how children learn best.
Play is an opportunity for children to learn about caring for others and the environment, builds confidence and is central to building strong and healthy relationships.
Here are some practical tips on how to better engage in playtime with your child:
1. Follow your child’s lead
Let your child choose the game or activity you will be doing together. Your child feels valued, gains confidence that his or her interests are important and learns that you’re there if he or she needs you when she explores the world.
2. Take your time
Engage in the activity without distraction – yes, put down the phone! Try not to think about all the things you “need” to be doing. You’ll show your child they are valued if you stop and take an interest in things that fascinate them.
3. Get close
Get on their level. Sit on the floor, kneel in the grass, or squat beside your child’s chair. Face your child and make eye contact. SMILE! Your body language communicates your interest in the activity and builds confidence and trust.
4. Watch your child
If you observe what your child says and does, you’ll see new skills and areas of interest as they emerge. Use their interests to build your child’s confidence and help them explore the world.
5. Comment on what your child is doing
Describing what your child is doing shows and asking questions shows that you’re paying attention and are interested. You build the relationship and his or her trust and confidence simply by giving them your full attention.
(Information adapted from the Raising Children website)
Some engaging activity ideas for playtime include sand painting, textured collage for unstructured play, nature scavenger hunt or backyard obstacle course.