In the first part of this series, we talked about the importance of reading and creating a reading environment to help bring out your child’s intellectual potential. There’s a lot more that you can do as a parent, though!
Playtime is where children learn – absorb, really – without even thinking about it. Ample playtime with quality toys is not only good for a child’s educational development, but also their physical development. And if they have plenty of opportunity to play with other children as well, it’s an opportunity to grow emotionally and socially.
Here’s how to make the most of your child’s playtime:
Avoid “one-dimensional” toys.
By “one-dimensional”, I mean it can only do or be one thing, like an electronic gadget that makes a noise when you push a button and that’s it, or it does not allow any room for imagination. Imagination in play is essential to learning. I personally don’t buy any infant toys that simply play a song or make a sound when a button is pushed. As the baby grows into toddler-hood, a few well-chosen electronic toys can be beneficial to learning as they help a child make associations between letters and sounds or instruments and music.
Seek out toys that encourage imagination and multiple uses.
The possibilities are endless: blocks, Legos (Duplos for the younger ones), MegaBloks, alphabet blocks, and any kind of building toy immediately come to mind. Dolls and their accessories, trains, cars, and the like all can be used imaginatively. Art and craft supplies can be used under supervision even when a child is very young. Puzzles of all kinds will stimulate the mind. Toy instruments, like a xylophone, will help a child learn to express herself in song, too! Child versions of adult tools can encourage pretend play, and this encompasses a huge range of toys with almost unlimited options.
Allow for individual play.
Give your child plenty of time to play on his own with all of those imaginative and educational toys! Playing by himself will encourage a child to develop his imagination and independent thinking. Of course, this should be balanced by plenty of interaction and play with Mommy and Daddy: your children will learn other things by interacting with you!