Is it child’s play…or child’s work?

How did we ever form the idea that play is just recreation when it serves such a vital role in children’s development? 

If play is a child’s work, then providing the opportunities and toys to do so is the work of parents. Pam Henningsen, a parent educator and Parents and Children at Play trainer with Parents as Teachers, joined a Goddard School podcast recently to talk about play.

Listen to the Goddard School podcast here (Nov. 8 Balancing the Art of Parenting).

Your baby will enjoy “painting” with yogurt or pulling apart cooked spaghetti noodles while sitting in his high chair.

Play with your baby!

  • Set up a simple obstacle course for the new crawler—one small pillow to crawl over or around. Put a toy just out of reach and encourage baby to crawl after it.
  • Your baby will enjoy “painting” with yogurt or pulling apart cooked spaghetti noodles while sitting in his high chair.
  • Let baby drop blocks, metal jar lids or ping pong balls into a large can to hear the different sounds.

Play with your toddler!

  • Play listening games. Sit close to each other and say, “Shhh, listen carefully. Can you hear…” (the bird, fire truck, baby cry).
  • Waiting—in doctor’s office, for the bus, wherever—is a good time for playing word games. Take turns rhyming words (don’t worry too much whether the rhyme is a“real” word).
  • Blow bubbles for your child to catch. To add excitement, give him a clean fly swatter or paper towel tube to bat them with.

Play with your preschooler!

  • Hopping is an entertaining way to move. Ask your preschooler to hop instead of walk to the bus stop.
  • Paint the sidewalk with a paint brush and a bucket of water.
  • Make up tongue twisters—“Will Wiggles win wooly wheels when Wednesday comes?”