We’ve spoken about it here at Healthy Families Healthy Children before – but the importance of play for children can never be overstated. Sydney Local Health District’s Paediatric Occupational Therapist Britt Woolfenden talks about how something so simple is so significant when it comes to your child’s development.
“Children learn about their world through play. That can include social norms or rules and learning about daily routines but also discovering what their bodies can do and how to move things” says Ms Woolfenden.
When families get busy, parents don’t always spend time playing one on one with their children and often the TV will take over, but it’s important to make time for play.
“Children shouldn’t only be learning through the iPad or through watching cartoons on the TV”.
Ms Woolfenden recommends spending time playing with your child every day with no distractions. That means no housework, no TV or iPads, just your family spending time together, sharing new ideas.
And you don’t need all the shiny, new toys that can cost a lot of money.
“Simple things you can make yourself can be great for learning. Things like threading pasta onto a kebab stick or pretend play with dolls and stuffed animals you already have. Sometimes, parents can be the toy!”
While certain activities can be good for certain areas of development – for example, building blocks helping with fine motor skills, there’s really no right or wrong.
“Play doesn’t have to be very organised or controlled. It should be really fun and silly. It’s a lot about following your child’s lead.”