We're already written about the importance of play, but a recent blog post on Urban Child Institute got us thinking about the importance of play in parenting. We believe that a parent is a child's first (and most important) teacher, and for young children the best way to learn is through play!
Now take a minute to think about "play", what comes to mind? For many parents the first thought is high-tech games, apps, gadgets, computers or television. Although these activities can be fun and enriching it is unstructured play with parents/caregivers/peers that allows children to learn how to interact, communicate, problem solve and so much more, especially in the first three years of development! The Urban Child Institute provided these great tips to parents on playing and engaging with your child from 0-3 years of age!
First 12 months: common play includes peek-a-boo, singing and dancing, looking at books, playing with different colored balls, pushing buttons to make toys work.
What these activities accomplish: children learn about turn taking, interaction with others, shared enjoyment in activities, language comprehension and expression, and hand eye coordination.
12-24 months: toddlers take a giant leap in playing and learning. From standing to walking, to running and jumping! These little ones are on the move and begin to interact with complex toys and exploring the world of make believe. They enjoy sharing books and games, and exploring toys and places with others.
What these activities accomplish: They learn numbers, shapes and colors. Their receptive and expressive language continues to grow along with the understanding of friendship and close bonds with others.
24-36 months: toddlers begin to play rather than watch each other play.
What these activities accomplish: through playing with others children learn to share, take turns, and "turn on" their imagination. They learn that their interactions and creativity with others and their environment can lead them on adventures - boxes become castles and wooden spoons become wands. Play at this age promotes creativity, language abilities, self control and problem solving skills.
Remember, the most important thing about play is not the toys, it's YOU! So break out your own creativity and start having spontaneous, silly fun with your child - they'll learn more than any app can ever teach them.