Why play is important

Play is an important part of your child’s learning and development. It helps to build confidence, develop social and physical skills as well as enables your child to learn about caring for others and to feel loved and safe.

There are two different types of play.

Free play is play that just happens, isn’t planned and let’s your child use their imagination. Examples of this are imaginative games like making a cubby house with boxes and blankets or playing make-believe.

The other is structured play. This is play that is more organised and happens at a time and in a certain space. It is often led by adults and can be activities such as attending swimming lessons, storytelling time at the local library, or playing modified sports like Auskick, NetSetGo or Cricket Blast.

Your child’s style of play will change as they grow. They will become more creative and will learn to play alone and with other children.

Here are some ideas to help you develop your child’s sense of play depending on their age.

  • Music and songs help to develop hearing and movement
  • Peekaboo is great for social and emotional development
  • Objects of different shapes, sizes and colours can encourage your child to reach and grasp.
  • Dress-up games with scarves and hats are good for imagination and creativity.
  • Cardboard boxes, buckets and blow-up balls encourage your child to run, push, drag and build.
  • Hoops, boxes, and pillows are good to climb on, balance or roll.
  • Playdough can help your child develop fine motor skills
  • Simple jigsaws and matching card games help improve your child’s memory and concentration.
  • Balls encourage kicking, throwing, and rolling.
  • Games like ‘I spy” are great for word play and developing literacy
  • Home-made obstacle courses get your child moving in different ways.
  • Simple cooking activities can develop numeracy and everyday skills.
- Information sourced from www.raisingchildren.net.au
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