Learning through play is simply the best way to learn at any age. I have been involved in teaching children and young people for as long as I care to remember – long before a career in teaching I was babysitting and looking after little ones at church. I can remember doing my girl guide badge on play and the toddler I did my badge on is a teacher to be herself!! One of the theorists I learned was Piaget Learning through play.
Piaget has been a huge influence on why play is important and helps us to recognise what type of play is common in the different stages of childhood. The first stage is where the baby is trying to make sense of the world. This post gives some ideas on play for 0-2yr olds. Piaget identified four stages and 0 -2 is the first stage (Sensorimotor stage). From eight months play becomes intentional. The child knows that a rattle, for example, will give a response.
At this stage, our children are learning through the use of the five senses so we should encourage play which is tactile.
1. Play without toys – sit baby on your lap and pull faces, watch as they experiment back at you. Remember you are you child’s greatest toy!
2. A play mat is a great investment especially if baby is rewarded with hanging toys, lights or sounds. The first stage of play is putting everying to their mouth. This is due to the sucking and rooting reflex that provides food for them.
3. A mirror, babies love to see the baby looking back at them. Erin sits in front of our wardrobe mirrors capitivated!
Once baby reaches 8 months they have more ability to play. This is the time to invest in more sensory toys.
Our favourite was Teddy
From age 1 baby will be looking to use more of the senses and developing more control. Erin loved toys that moved or surprised her with popping balls.
At 16 months Erin is developing a an understand of pressing buttons to get a reaction, shapesorters are ideal from this age.
Musical instruments are also great as they challenge the senses (well mine anyway!) as obviously they make a noise, the baby can feel the vibrations also.
Whilst I am not the most creative person I do always try to give my children lots of opportunities to play. One of my favourite pics of recent times is of them all colouring together.
Play is endless play is fun and the best thing you can do is just get on the floor and play together. Remember you don’t have to have all the lastest toys – that will come with pesterpower when they are older. use what you hve in the home, bang a saucepan with a wooden sponn. Make a rattle with dried rice in a jar. More importantly have fun together.