Quality play with your preschooler

Quality play with your preschooler

Play is not just fun, but it is ideally children’s work full of learning. And new learning can lead to development of a new skill. Nurturing these skills at right time is very essential. Parents can help developing these skills when they understand the importance of play and participate actively in play with their children. But parents often ask how can we contribute to our children’s play? 

According to Mildred Parten’s 1932 https://psycnet.apa.org/doiLanding?doi=10.1037%2Fh0074524 study of interaction in children during play in the classroom, she found that there were six prominent stages play. These stages were according to a child’s development and age.

Unoccupied (birth- 2): Child does not engage in play at all, but only observe other.

Solitary (age 2-3): Child engages in play by himself, no interaction with others

Onlooker (age 2.5- 3.5): Child watches another child play and does not join in playing, no interaction with  other.

Parallel (age 2.5- 3.5): Children play side by side, but do not interact with  other

Associative (age 3- 4): Children interact with  others, have interest in what  others are  doing, but still have their own toys to play with, imitating each other.

Cooperative (age 4- 6): Children interact and play with  others, share toys, and create new things together

It is now clearly understood that children engage in Associative and Cooperative play during their preschool stage. As mentioned earlier, during associative play, children learn to imitate each other. Hence  gives an  opportunity for adults to teach a new skill. For example, if parents want them to learn the technique of threading beads, they can simply take a shoe lace and some large colourful beads and start threading them one after the other. The parents should ensure that there is enough material available for children to pick up and begin imitating. 

During cooperative play, the children learns to share and cooperate with peers. This is indeed a very essential skill, isn’t it? As young children learn more about what other’s play or work, they become more inquisitive to engage with them. Hence during play time at home, parents should actively indulge in quality tasks that can ignite curiosity among children resulting in better development and learning. 

Apart from this, the parents  canassist their children in learning other essential skills like taking turns. While the children is involved with simple equipment like blocks, the parents can encourage building huge block tower with equal chances of placing blocks one above the other. This means that children will eventually learn to take turns during play periods in school.   

Parents can also expose their pre-schoolers to a large bank of vocabulary to make them effective communicators through the medium of play. For example, while indulging in a scientific play the parents can introduce them to different vocabulary like light-heavy; solid-liquid; more-less; big-small etc. While they play, parents can guide their play by starting a conversation with them. The parents should ensure that the conversation is filled with rich vocabulary yet comfortable enough for the children to comprehend and respond. 

Apart from parent’s individual contribution in their children’s play, the parents can organize frequent play dates. These are social occasions arranged for children to play together. Frequent play dates provides children with opportunities to build friendships, work in team, set up rules and guidelines of play, keep patience and collaborate with each other. 

Now, understanding that play is beneficial in number of ways, let us together vow to be active participators in our children’s learning process and nurture their skills in the best way possible 

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