Toddlers are learning constantly and of the most common ways a child learns is through their play. Playtime can teach how to interact with other children and adults, how to prioritize, how to organize and so much more. Playing can involve exploring through touch, taste, hearing, sight and feel; imagination; imitation; and just plain fun. Playing is important for in building a child’s imagination, gross and fine motor skills, social skills, emotional development and intelligence. |
Research has shown that toddlers can imitate not only what the experience in real life, but also what they see in books, especially picture books. Having a variety of picture books available for the 4-5 years old child helps develop literary and life skills. Children who are read to often participate in storytelling, and sing help in their language development.
Play also helps toddlers begin learning basic math skills as they manipulate items. It’s also important for children to be able to play together without adult interference so they can learn decision making skills and how to work out problems among themselves. Playing through imagination is important for the growing child. Children play dress-up, cowboy and Indians, mommy, and anything else they can dream up. Playing in this way helps children understand various roles and how to perform certain life skills. It also helps your toddler gain some security in independence.
A toddler’s gross motor skills are developed as children crawl, walk, run, jump, climb, skip, throw and catch. Fine motor skills are developed when children learn to hold a spoon, stack blocks, pick up food with fingers, and coloring. Motor skills are used constantly during playtime and continually improve over time.
Very young children do not play with other kids, as they grow they first participate in parallel play where they children play around each other, but not interacting together. By about age 3 children begin interacting with each other. Each of these steps is necessary for learning how to socialize with other children, and adults. This play will help children learn to share, take turns, resolve conflict, and depend on others.
Finally, play helps a child understand certain emotions. Play offers opportunities to act out scary thoughts, sad events, and joyous things. Children begin learning how to control their emotions by understanding what they mean.
Children have a large capacity to learn and begin so the minute they are born. Providing your child with ample opportunities for play will aid his development in all areas of his life. Your child will more likely be well adjusted and confident as he grows.
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