At every Cuddles Childcare Centre, we embrace the motto “Learning through Play.” Whether your child lives in Baldivis, Vic Park or any Perth suburb, we know he or she will learn more as a toddler or preschooler by playing than by the kind of teaching they will receive later in life. Children learn the fastest while they are playing at home or in preschool.
Why Play is So Important
At home, playing with your children is important for their development. The time you and your children spend playing together provides numerous different ways and opportunities to learn. Play can help your children gain confidence. It can help them feel loved. It can make them feel happy and safe.
Play helps children develop their social skills, language skills and communication skills. It teaches them caring and sharing. They can learn about the environment. They begin to develop and learn physical skills and coordination by burning and connecting new neurological pathways.
While your child will love playing with you, there are times when children like to play alone or with peers, too. Sometimes they just want you to give them ideas or let them know you approve of what they are doing.
There are different types of play. All of them have their place in helping your child learn and develop social, numeracy and literacy skills.
Unstructured or “Free” Play
This is the best kind of play for toddlers. This is spontaneous, depending upon what your child suddenly takes interest in. No planning is involved and your child uses their imagination and plays at their own pace.
Unstructured play can be alone or with other children. Creative play can involve artistic themes, singing or musical games. Imaginative games are popular and can involve making cubby houses with blankets and boxes, playing make-believe or dressing up. Children learn to explore new or favourite playing spaces such as backyards, cupboards, parks or playgrounds.
You can choose to participate in your child’s unstructured play or you can choose to let them play on their own. Sometimes you can give them a “nudge” in the right direction and they will play creatively for hours. Simple toys, crayons, paper and dress-ups are great for inspiring children to use their imaginations.
Unstructured play is “pure.” It is all coming from the child’s imagination. There are no peers to cooperate with and no rules. Just pure, unadulterated imagination and fun. Monitoring your child’s play when they don’t know it is a great way to get a handle on what they are thinking and where their imaginations are going.
Structured play is organised. It is usually in a specific time and place under the supervision of adults. Here are some examples:
- Water familiarisation exercises or swimming classes depending on age. While you may see this as “learning an important skill,” the children usually see them as fun.
- Storytelling time at preschool or at the local library.
- Drama, music or dance classes at any age.
- Board games or card games with the family.
- Modified sports especially for preschoolers that value fundamentals and exercise over competition.
Remember: structured and unstructured play can happen indoors or outdoors. Playing outdoors gives your child a chance to get exercise, explore and make a mess.
Play, of course, progresses as your child ages. Here are some age-related activities.
Your baby will just like being in your presence and you will be doing most of the “playing” at first. It can include songs, music or bells. When they are old enough, a container filled with different objects helps them become familiar with the world. Objects of different sizes, shapes and colours encourage grasping and reaching.
Toddlers can have bigger objects that encourage them to test and develop their motor skills. Boxes, hoops or large pillows can encourage balancing, twisting and rolling.
Preschoolers may understand simple jigsaw puzzles. Wooden spoons, old milk containers, favourite music, plastic buckets, balls and frisbees can encourage running, jumping and development of rhythm.
Call Your Nearest Cuddles Childcare Centre Today
At every Cuddles Childcare Centre, your child will have plenty of opportunities to play with various degrees of structure. To learn more, call the Cuddles Childcare Centre closest to you.