Play is a vital part of a child’s development – it develops the skills they’ll need to thrive as future adults and teaches them how the world works. Here are five tips to generate play and unlock your child’s full potential.
Play doesn’t require expense or taking time out from your busy day, you can turn your daily routine into opportunities to play and use the tools at your disposal. Create moments of play in your daily routine such as cooking, cleaning, bath time and bedtime.
5 simple ways to play differently
Kerry Kassen, Director at the LEGO Foundation in South Africa, shares these five ways to make you think differently about play, unlock potential and teach them how to cope better with life’s ups and downs and build healthy relationships.
1. Take the routine out of your household to-dos
Consider how you could bring your children into the chore-doing-mix. Many household tasks involve stacking, sorting, and imagining, all of which sharpen basic development like motor skills and language learning. For instance, simple tasks like folding laundry present an opportunity to teach your child about colours, sizes or identifying and sorting their clothes. Other ideas include sorting vegetables, measuring cups or canned foods or matching pots and dishes with their lids.
2. Level-up how you play the game
Got any old magazines or papers around the house? Turn these into paper planes using different texture paper, some with bright colours and pictures and varied thickness. Children will learn how to fold the planes through repetition, then experience cause and effect when ‘flying’ them to see which can go the furthest.
For older children, you can make the activity more challenging by adding ‘luggage’ such as small coins or paper clips, then ask your child to share their thoughts on why some planes fly further than others. While for smaller children you can fold these into different sizes or colours and have them order them from big to small before flying.
Throwing paper planes improves hand-eye co-ordination, and teaches problem-solving – especially when you level-up with different sizes, textures or ‘luggage’.
3. Reimagine everyday items for all they could be
Everyday activities such as putting on socks while getting dressed are a fun way to encourage interaction and storytelling with your child. Add a little more fun to your routine by slipping clean socks over your and your child’s hand. Make a C-shape with your hand by tucking the sock into the groove between your thumb and fingers and tell your child a story using your sock puppet as a character. Help your child name their own character and tell their own story.
Encourage your children to tell fun stories, this develops their imagination and helps sharpen their storytelling skills.
4. See things for more than they are
Consider everyday items that are traditionally used for specific activities as alternatives for play.
Toilet paper on the roll can be used to form different shapes or letters. You can also use it to build a track for balls to roll through. Crayons can be used to build towers and the different colours could be the characters. Cereal boxes could become towns or colouring books.
Using everyday items is a great way to get your child to use what it at hand to enhance their creativity and test new ideas.
5. Go with the flow every now and then
The most amazing thing about children is their innate ability to play. Make sure they you go with their flow sometimes– tap into their game, listen and build on their story by asking open questions, and let them guide you.
More playful things
Most importantly, don’t let worrying about how to play with your children get in the way of playing! You’re probably doing lots of playful things already. But in case you run out of inspiration, you can find ideas for new activities on the LEGO Foundation’s Playlist.