Playing is perhaps the most common activity that keeps young children entertained and as a parent, you want your child to have fun and make the best use of it.
Watching your child play can give you a glimpse of their imagination and the skills they’ve developed so far. With children, it’s simple to maximize learning through play because they easily become absorbed in activities they enjoy.
Playing is an essential part of childhood that goes hand in hand with learning and lays a foundation for the formal learning that takes place in school.
For example, babies or toddlers might utilize educational toys that introduce them to numbers, shapes, and basic vocabulary so that when they get to the classroom, they already have a familiarity with them.
There are many different forms of play for children but the three primary ones are:
- Social play
- Object play
- Pretend play
Each of these forms of play should involve at least one adult who can properly structure the child’s playing and learning environment.
Social play begins when parents or caregivers interact with a baby and increases over time as they begin playing with other children. Playtime with your baby might involve:
- Playing with toys
- Encouraging tummy time
- Gently stretching their arms and legs
- Rocking or dancing them to the beat of music
Using the Nuryl app directly fosters social play by encouraging parental involvement while the child listens to playlists containing High Information Music, which consists of musical compositions that are rich in harmonics and rhythmic complexity but also move in unexpected directions.
Moving your child to the beat of this music helps activate the social part of their brain. You can learn more about our revolutionary brain-developing concept here.
Object play focuses on utilizing items such as:
- Household items
With enough play, children will eventually begin remembering each object’s properties and function, strengthening their memory. For example, an infant might learn the word “hat” after playing with their mother’s hat and putting it on their head.
A recent study observed 27 infants aged 8-17 months old and discovered that object play is associated with exploratory activities, gestures, and language development.
In this study, the infants sat on the floor and were presented with 22 common household items they were familiar with from everyday use. Researchers observed each baby’s exploration activities, gestures, and speech during the process. All items were presented at the same time so the babies were consistently exposed to the same ones.
Examples of exploratory acts in this study include babies putting a bottle in their mouth or transferring a toy from one hand to the other. Gesturing consisted of an infant directing his or her attention toward an item by holding it up or pointing at it. And in this case, speech consisted of uttering recognizable words.
By the end of the study, researchers had recorded up to 243 exploratory acts, up to 43 gestures, and up to 58 instances of single-word utterances (Thibodeau et al., 2016).The results demonstrated that exploration of different items can directly affect single-object play, leading to gesturing and advanced object play.
Through pretend play, children can learn more about themselves and their interests. Pretend play is commonly seen in toddlers and the child’s creativity can be observed through their dialogue, actions, and thought process.
According to observations from play therapists, pretend play provides space for emotional expression and learning how to regulate emotions (Russ & Wallace, 2013). By taking on a pretend role, a child can imagine what it’s like to be someone else. This helps them understand different perspectives and develop empathy (Lowry, n.d.).
Pretend play is also a great opportunity to introduce your child to new vocabulary. For example, you might teach them names of food if they’re pretending to be a cook.
Make It Count
As a parent, it’s important to make the best experience out of your child’s playtime and it will certainly be interesting to see which type of play they gravitate toward most often. Whether they’re exploring objects, dancing to music, or pretending to be a fictional character, you will find that encouraging each of these types of play offers educational benefits that will last a lifetime.
Lowry, L. (n.d.). The land of make believe: How and why to encourage pretend play. Http://Www.Hanen.Org. Retrieved May 19, 2021, from http://www.hanen.org/Helpful-Info/Articles/The-Land-of-Make-Believe.aspx
Russ, S. W., & Wallace, C. E. (2013). Pretend play and creative processes. Institute of Educational Sciences, 6, 136–148. https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1016123.pdf
Thibodeau, R. B., Gilpin, A. T., Brown, M. M., & Meyer, B. A. (2016). The effects of fantastical pretend-play on the development of executive functions: An intervention study. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 145, 120–138. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jecp.2016.01.001