Science and wisdom tell us that play is vital for a child’s development. The problem is that as a busy parent, it may feel like an enormous challenge to find the time to play or you may find that you are unsure about how to play with your little one. In chapter 10 of Baby Sense, we talk about 4 guidelines for stimulation and we use the acronym T.E.A.T:
Play with your little one when he is well rested and not hungry, preferably in the calm-alert state. This is the state that is best for learning and making brain connections. You will know your baby is receptive to activities, when he is calm, making eye contact – reaching for toys and showing interest in the world.
The opportunity can present it self in normal daily activities such as nappy change time, bath time or mealtime. In addition, it is worth setting aside 15 minutes a day to get onto the floor and focus 100% on your child.
To focus happily on play, you will want a space that is firstly safe – without hazards such as plug holes, loose book shelves and open water. Try to de-clutter the space and not have too many toys on offer. Put your mobile device away and get onto the floor with your child and offer 3-5 carefully chosen activities or toys. In this way the play environment is conducive to fun and learning.
An activity is simply an interaction with your little one that enhances development and is fun. Games such as peek-a-boo or reading a book together, learning a new nursery rhyme or finger painting are all examples of activities that spark interest as well as teach vital skills
Carefully chosen toys are a fabulous way to spark your child’s imagination and teach skills. Toys should be matched with your child’s age. The best toys require one of two things from your baby:
- A toy may spark imagination – such as a doll, a toy phone or a pretend kitchen. These toys are brilliant for encouraging language, creativity and collaboration with you. You and your little one can take on roles and pretend play together.
- A toy may enhance skills – such as a ball, shape sorter or a puzzle. These toys demand a certain level of interaction from your little one. Watch for interest in a certain area and offer a toy that will provide just the right challenge to your child.
Enjoy playing with your little one and know that through appropriate timing, a stimulating environment and the right activities and toys, you can spark your child’s brilliance.