Playtime is important for kids of all ages. They can start some kind of play while they are still an infant- tummy time is important for physical and other kinds of development.
It can be a bit hard for parents to know or even come up with ideas on how to play with their kids. This isn’t bad- not all parents are natural playmates. Some are and take great delight in playing with their kids from the start.
As children grow, they are able to try new things. Toddlers can walk and run, they learn to toss and bounce a ball. Preschoolers can learn to share toys and play pretend. Older kids can play board games, video games and a lot more.
Advantages of Playtime
- It is wonderful for our children to have siblings and/or friends to play with, but they also want their parents to play with them. This can be a great time to bond.
- Playtime can be an opportunity to spend time together, especially if parents don’t have a lot of spare time to otherwise spend with their child.
- Kids also feel special when they play with their parents. If they have siblings, this can be their alone time with their parents.
- When you play with your child, you’re giving them a good role model. They learn from you in everything you do, but in this case, they learn good sportsmanship, good effort, how to follow rules, and so on.
- You also rediscover the fun things that you may have liked as a kid, or even better, new things. I loved jump rope as a kid and my daughter also loves it.
- It’s fun, it’s not complicated and we really enjoy it. I’ve even remembered how much I like sidewalk chalk.
- My younger son loves riding his bike, something my husband loved as a kid and teenager. It actually played a role in the early part of our relationship. He has enjoyed helping our son fix his bike.
- Playing can also be a stress reliever for both you and your child. If you and/or your child are going through a tough time, playing together can help express those feelings or even help escape them for a little while. Walking in a park, climbing on a jungle gym, or even playing cars with a toddler can help.
- Kids can learn a lot through play and most of what they learn is life skills. They can learn how to care for babies (playing with dolls), how to cook by playing in a play kitchen, riding a bike, coloring, making crafts among other things can help build confidence and knowledge.
Tips for play:
- Relax! This is supposed to be fun. I’ve had a lot of fun playing with my kids over the years. We have made messes, rode bikes, colored, had tea parties, dressed up, played cars, dinosaurs, Legos and lots more.
- Ask your child what they want to do, if they are able to talk. If they’re still an infant, they will let you know by their face. If they like the toy in front of them, they will show enthusiasm by kicking, smiling or wiggling. If not, there might be tears.
- Let your child lead. It’s their time to shine. Let them pick the game, toys, etc. If they get stuck or act inappropriately, help them out, but otherwise, let them guide you
- Ask open-ended questions. This allows them to think deeper while they are playing.
Ideas for activities:
- Crafts: depending on you and your child’s experience and comfort levels, this can be a fun activity. Find something that you both enjoy- stained glass, paper mache, painting, cloth, there are many to choose from. Younger kids can do fingerpaint, glitter, coloring, construction paper, etc. Pinterest can be a wonderful place to find ideas.
- Board games. Kids as young as three or four can play some board games. This can also be a way to teach a lesson in taking turns, patience, how to handle losing.
- Card games. Some kids love card games. It’s a good way to teach games that can be shared with their friends.
- Puzzles. My kids aren’t big on these- we tried 100 piece puzzles last summer, even one with can be colored in. Some kids do like them. This can become a project over a winter or summer break with just Mom or Dad. Smaller kids can start on puzzles with larger pieces.
- Memory game. My kids love this because they know they will usually win. I have short term memory issues, so this isn’t the best game for me to play. When they were into this game a few years ago, I usually lost but it was still fun. This is usually popular with younger kids.
- Hide and seek. If you have space and time, this game can go on for a while.
Playtime can be a breeze with these tips and a bit of time. Let’s have fun with our kids!