Pregnancy week by week

Baby

Toddler

Play & learning


                            

Play is a big part of your child’s development and you have an important role to play as a parent. Children who are helped or praised when they express themselves freely through play tend to be more able to adapt, learn skills and do better at school.

It can be hard to find the time to play with your child, especially when you have plenty of other things you need to do. The answer to this can be finding ways of involving your child in what you are doing, even the chores!  By making what you are doing fun and interesting for your child, you can get your chores done while they are learning. Talk about anything and everything, even the washing-up or what to put on the shopping list, so you are sharing as much as possible and your child will pick up lots of new words. When you cook, you can show them what you are doing. Getting them involved in the things you do will teach them about taking turns and being independent, and they will also learn by copying what you do. Involving children in daily activities such as shopping, laying the table or cooking will provide “real life” ways for children to learn.

From birth your child begins to learn through play about using their senses, meeting people, talking and moving. This section explains how you can help your child learn through play.

  •  Get together lots of different things for your child to look at, think about and do.
     
  •  By making what you are doing fun and interesting for your child, you can get your chores done while they are learning.

  •  Make sure there are times when you focus completely on your child.

  •  Talk about anything and everything, even the washing-up or what to put on the shopping list, so you are sharing as much as possible and your child will pick up lots of new words.

  • Make sure your child gets plenty of opportunities to use their body by running, jumping and climbing especially if you don’t have much room at home.

  • Find other people who can spend time with your child at those times when you need to focus on something else.
It can be hard to find the time to play with your child, especially when you have plenty of other things you need to do. The answer to this can be finding ways of involving your child in what you are doing, even the chores! Children learn from everything they do and everything that is going on around them. When you cook, you can show them what you are doing and talk to them as you are working. Getting them involved in the things you do will teach them about taking turns and being independent, and they will also learn by copying what you do.

 Keeping active

Toddlers love to test their new found abilities. As a parent we usually admonish our child from doing physical activities that we believe can cause them harm. However, we can let them explore their new skills, but obviously under your supervision. Children love using their bodies to crawl, walk, run, jump and climb. The more opportunities you give them to burn off some energy, the happier they will be. You will probably find they sleep better and are more easy-going, too. By giving them the chance to exercise, you will be helping their muscle development and general fitness, and laying down habits that will help them grow into fit, healthy adults.

A study has demonstrated that a parent’s perception of their child’s athletic ability, starting from around the age of two, has a direct impact on how much a child participates in physical activity. What the child needs is support, encouragement and opportunities to try out a range of physical activities.

Children love using their bodies to crawl, walk, run, jump and climb. The more opportunities you give them to burn off some energy, the happier they will be. You will probably find they sleep better and more easy-going, too. By giving them the chance to exercise, you will be helping their muscle development and general fitness, and laying down habits that will help them grow into fit, healthy adults.

Here are some ways to keep your child active:

  • Let your baby lie down and kick their legs
  • Once your baby has started crawling, let them crawl around the floor. You will need to make sure it’s safe first.

  • Let your toddler walk with you, rather than carrying him around.

  • Toddlers and young children love going to the park where they can climb and swing, or just run around.

  • Toys that your child can pick up and move around will help improve their co-ordination and develop the muscles in their arms and hands.

  • You can take your child swimming from a very young age.

  • Jumping and acrobatics: children love jumping. You can help your child by letting him bounce on a bed or put some pillows on the floor to jump onto from something low, like the sofa.

  • Clambering and climbing: children have a natural inclination to climb. Climbing frames with ladders and slides and soft surface to tumble onto-will help your toddler practice this skill

  • Building and emptying: this is the time when more complex actions that require hand-eye coordination develop. For instance, a two year old can build towers of up to six blocks, use a cup with two hands, as well as a spoon and fork. Emptying is the one of the first fine motor skills your toddler will master. You can keep him occupied with a box or toys or let him scribble with a crayon.
 A study has demonstrated that a parent’s perception of their child’s athletic ability, starting from around the age of two, has a direct impact on how much a child participates in physical activity. What the child needs is support, encouragement and opportunities to try out a range of physical activities.

  • Parents are the reading role models. Reading to the child by 6 to 9 months encourages the child’s love for books.
     
  • Creative thinking should be encouraged by active listening and by answering the questions asked with love

  • Pre-schools are not necessary if parents can engage the child usefully

  • Children should not be forced to pre-schools as children should have positive memories about early schooling years

  • Regular play should not be compromised for watching educational programs on television; such programs do not enhance early childhood learning

                Get creative: Ideas to help your child play and learn

As a parent it is important to spend some time playing and reading with your child. From birth your child begins to learn through play about using her senses, meeting people, talking and moving. Here is how you can help your child learn through play.

Reading books, singing songs and nursery rhymes with your child is fun, and will help her develop language and communication skills. You can also use lots of things you have already got around the house. Try some of the ideas listed here. Remember to get involved yourself- your child will learn more from you than they will from any toy. Toys need not be expensive- pots, pans, and spoons can be much more exciting to a toddler  than an expensive toy.
 

1) Rattles (from 4 months )

Wash out a plastic screw-top bottle and put lentils or dried beans inside. Shake it around in front of your child and they will learn how to make a noise with it.


2) Play dough (from about 18 months)


3) Pretend cooking (from 18 months)

Use a bowl and spoons to measure out small quantities of real ingredients (flour, lentils, rice, sugar, custard powder). You and your child can mix them up with water in bowls.


4) Television

You should consider limiting your child’s TV viewing to less than three hours per day from two years old and ideally no TV viewing before the age of two years. TV can entertain your child and give you a bit of time to do other things. Try not to have it on all the time, though, and always make sure you know what your child’s watching. Watch with your child when you can talk together about what you are seeing.


5) Playing with water (any age)

Babies, toddlers and young children love playing with water, in the bath or paddling pool or just using the sink or a plastic bowl. Use plastic bottles for pouring and squirting at each other, plastic tubing, a sponge, straws, funnel, and spoons-anything unbreakable. You will probably both get wet so you might want to cover your clothes. Remember, never leave a young child alone with water.


6) Dressing up (from 18 months)

 Collect old hats, bags, gloves, scarves, nighties, lengths of material, tea towels and old curtains. Make sure there are no loose cords, strings or ribbons that could wrap around the child’s neck or trip him up. Paper plates or cut up cereal packets make good masks-cut slits for the eyes and tie them on with a string.


7) Reading
You can start looking at books with your baby at an early age. Books spark the imagination of a child. And, most importantly, they are lots of fun. Even before your baby learns to speak, they will enjoy hearing you read to them, and listening to you will give them a feel for the sounds and rhythms. You don’t have to read the words, just talk about what you can see. This will not only build important language skills but also encourage her interest in reading.


 8) Drawing and painting (from 18 months)

Use crayons, sketch pens or water paint. At first, you need to show your child how to hold the crayon or paint brush.


9) Paper bag or envelope puppets

Use old paper bags and envelopes to make into hand puppets. Draw faces on them or stick things on to make your own characters. Try getting the puppets to talk to each other, or to you and your child.


10) Walking

Encourage your child to walk with you as soon as they are able. It might slow you down, but it is a great way for both of you to get some exercise!

11) Junk modeling (from 30 months)

Collect all sorts of cardboard boxes, cartons, yoghurt pots, milk bottle tops-anything- and buy some children’s glue. Then you can help them to make whatever they like!

12) Outdoor activity

Exposure to new and interesting opportunities and experiences at a pace that they can cope with such as going to zoo, water park, wild life parks, or amusement parks.

 Plays is important to children as it is spontaneous and while playing children use the experiences they have and extend them to build up ideas, concepts and lifelong skills that they can carry with them in later life. While playing, babies and children can try things out, solve problems, take risks and use trial and error to find things out and be creative.

Some helpful tips

  • Parents are the reading role models. Reading to the child by 6 to 9 months encourages the child’s love for books.
     
  • Creative thinking should be encouraged by active listening and by answering the questions

  • Pre-schools are not necessary if parents can engage the child usefully

  • Children should not be forced to pre-schools as children should have positive memories about early schooling years

  • Regular play should not be compromised for watching educational programs on television; such programs do not enhance early childhood learning

  • Support’s your child’s play through observation, attention, and praise, without taking over, giving advice or competing or else your child will soon get demoralized and give up.

 

 

 



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