As parents or adults we might view play as just plain ‘playing’ as far as toddlers are concerned. But, for toddlers, playtime is a serious ‘work’ where they are picking up and honing a lot of new skills, developing creativity and imagination too. It could be something as simple as tugging onto a truck or stacking blocks on top of each other but any kind of play is special. Play time can be made even more special by spending quality time with your little munchkins and helping them learn and explore via activities.
Following suggestions will guide you to make playtime more special and meaningful.
Pointers on how to make playtime more meaningful
- Choose an apt play area
The play area has an equally important role to play as the object of play itself. An open, child friendly space, with no other distractions and safe to run around or enjoy activities, is ideal.
- Take things slowly and let your child lead you
It is best to let your little one take the lead after you have given him or her any toy to play with – how to hold it, what to do with it, which is the right side, how to maneuver the toy should be left to the child to explore. You can show him once how it is to be done and then let your child take the lead. Also, do not rush him or her into showing what the ‘right’ thing to do is or how to play with the said toy. Instead of doing things for the child, he is more likely to learn by trying to do it by himself. You can help out by showing them once how to play with the particular toy or help them out when stuck. This will prevent frustration in the kid. However, the help should be limited to only that much, else it will interfere with their learning and exploring process.
- Be quick to decipher your toddler’s signals
Toddlers have a limited concentration and attention span. Playing with the same thing for long can lead to frustration in them and eventually maybe a tantrum. So check out for the tell-tale signs, in the form of facial expressions, sounds or certain gestures. In order to avoid a tantrum, you can quickly wind-up the given game or switch to something else beforehand upon noticing the familiar signals. This will also help you understand which toy or activity your child prefers more over the others.
What kind of toys or activities to pick?
There are a variety of toys, games or activities to choose from to play with your young one. But while choosing one, you can think if it will enhance the toddler’s fine motor skills, gross motor skills, or visual development, or sensory development. Also, check if it encourages their creativity and imagination skills. The play might help with their physical development or introduce them to the world in general and teach skills like how to interact with others.
So, choose messy play, water play, singing, scribbling, stacking, pulling and pushing- your child is learning while playing with anything. A key point to remember is to be ready for repetition as toddlers love to do the same thing again and again until they master it.