Wednesday 10 October 2018

Christmas Toys And The Benefits Of Play

With Christmas in the not too distant future, many parents are starting the frenzy of Christmas shopping. As parents we spend an extortionate amount of money on toys every year, why do we do it? We do it to please our little ones by getting the “next big thing”, to ensure they get the same as their friends and to create childhood memories which last a lifetime. Whilst these are all excellent reasons, it’s easy to forget that toys play an extremely important part in our child’s development. Children learn through play and having a good range of toys to play with, gives a vast range of learning opportunities.

Often it feels as parents, like we are drowning in a sea of multicoloured plastic toys. The bright colours are attractive to children, but too many can actually become quite “samey”. It’s a good idea to have toys made from natural substances such as wooden toys, toys made from material such as cotton and some of mother nature's offerings such as pine cones, conkers and leaves. This ensures a variety of textures are discovered and makes play easier to relate to everyday life. In fact a few pans and a wooden spoon offers oodles of opportunity, albeit a little noisy!   
Play helps a child’s development in lots of ways. Read on to discover how.

Imagination and creativity
Imagination is not just about telling a story, it also encourages problem solving which is essential in daily life as an adult. To solve a problem we need to be able to think up solutions and imagine how each solution could solve the issue. These essential skills are discovered during imaginative small world play and arts and crafts. Imagination also helps us to get pleasure from the world around us. Who doesn’t love a good book or film in order to relax?

Emotional and social development
Play is a child’s first introduction to being able to share with others, have empathy for another person’s feelings and communication skills. Turn taking games gives an awareness of others and how to function within a group. Role play allows a child to take turns in different character roles, which enables them to empathise with different people in different situations. Make believe games which involve dressing up as different characters, allows a child to express their feelings, involving all their emotions. Observing another child’s response to emotions such as anger or being upset, gives understanding on how certain behaviours affect others.   

Communication skills
Pretend play offers a child the opportunity to practice their language skills. Often children will reenact what they have heard on TV or what their parents say, which adds to their overall communication ability as well as increases their knowledge of words and language. Children also discover that communication is a two way (or more) process, meaning that they need to listen to the point of view of others.

As parents, it’s good to know that the toys we are pressured into buying our “little angels” are actually contributing to their development. Play is essential for learning as it allows a child to practice new found skills in a safe environment before heading off into the big wide world!  

Disclosure - this is a collaborative post.


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