Many parents will find the fact that your toddler is trying to put the doorstop into the loo or some similar antics absolutely bizarre and quite frankly pretty annoying. But have you ever stopped to think about why they are doing it? Every moment in your child’s life is a learning experience, and so while they are playing, they are also learning. They are exploring how things work, which is why play is such an important part of their cognitive development.
To stimulate their growth through play, here are a few activities that will help your little one to grow their mind.
A sand pit
Many parents see sand as a petri dish or a dirty mess waiting to happen, but sand is a great way for your child to learn basic social, emotional, motor and cognitive skills. Shovelling, excavating, pouring and sifting are a mechanism for muscle tone, coordination, logical learning, self-confidence, imagination and teamwork. All of these can be developed through scenarios such as a bit of sand in the mouth or sharing toys to build a giant sandcastle.
Playdough doesn’t have to be bought to be fun. It’s effortless to make your own play-dough. Your kids can even help you to make it, and don’t worry if it gets on their clothes; you can figure out how to remove a stain from a shirt later. Playing with this pliable pile is a great way for your kids to strengthen finger muscles, learn dexterity, creativity and social skills. The process of making it will help your kids to learn patience and work ethic.
Singing, dancing and grooving
Whether you are putting on your favourite song or making up a new tune to sing and dance to, this form of play is loaded with developmental opportunities. Singing and music are important in the development of language skills, rhythm, listening skills, creativity and even for basic mathematics such as counting. Dancing is a fundamental way for your kids to learn coordination, strength and flexibility. So, crank up the beat and get rocking.
Sensory play, as the name suggests, is a play that engages the five senses - touch, smell, taste, sight and hearing. Such play can involve food, coloured spaghetti, a plate of jelly, a bowl of aqua beads, ice and any other interesting textures, smells, foods, colours and sounds. This activity is great for developing motor skills, problem-solving and scientific thinking, spacial and body awareness, balance and all of their senses.
This is a great activity for small children and toddlers, although it can be adapted for kids of all ages. Remember, learning never stops and you can adapt many of these play experiences to suit a range of ages.
The next time your child grabs the doorstop, use the opportunity to show them how it works to keep the door open. The more fun you make the experience, the more likely they will learn from it - and don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty because being hands-on is a great way to experience the world. And hopefully, you won’t be fishing anything out of the loo any time soon and you take solace in the fact that your child is learning about the world.