Playtime can take on a vast array of forms and formats depending on a child's group of peers, the setting and resources available, the personality of a child, and their developmental maturity. If the activity has not been planned by an adult, have no fear, there will still be learning and development taking place. There's more to play than just structured activity. Playtime can be beneficial on many levels including emotionally, socially, mentally, and physically.
Social skills, a child's development, and their overall growth as a person are all influenced by play. Let's explore this on a slightly deeper level and see how, through play, children mature and develop social skills.
EMOTIONAL, SOCIAL, MENTAL, AND PHYSICAL DEVELOPMENT
- Emotional – Through play, children learn about caring, trust, and fairness. They learn how to build creativity and confidence.
- Social – Children are learning to cooperate, negotiate, and communicate. Higher-level skills such as collaboration, teamwork, perspective-taking, and friendship building develop. For children of diverse personalities and backgrounds, playtime is the perfect medium to intermingle.
- Mental – As children figure out how things work, imagine, construct, create, and experiment, they learn how to problem solve and think critically.
- Physical – As they play outdoors, children learn strength, balance, and dexterity.
DEVELOPMENTAL PLAY STAGES
On a social spectrum where does your child's play stand? As a child matures, the following stages become more complex and socially integrated:
- Cooperative play – Here, children work together and play together toward a common goal requiring them to contribute and interact. Role-playing, frequently seen at this stage, encourages imagination.
- Associative play – When children play together, they share equipment, take turns, and generally interact.
- Parallel play – Without much interaction, yet still playing marginally side-by-side, and possibly even using the same materials, children play near each other.
- Onlooker play – Without joining in and possibly with some conversation, a child watches others at play.
- Solitary play – Without interacting or noticing other children, frequently, three and two-year-olds play alone (and other ages of young children, as well).
SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT THROUGH PLAY
While your child plays, they can also develop their social skills. Here are some suggestions to help things along:
- Encourage the efforts of your child – In your relationship with your child, be an example of equity, kindness, and respect. So children can feel safe learning through loving support, peer influence, and trial and error, be nurturing and encouraging.
- Emphasize cooperation – Friendships are built by playing cooperatively and taking turns. Emphasize that, to keep things running smoothly, each person has a role, and each must take their turn. Encourage simple activities and cooperation.
- Make sure your child learns fairness – We all want to be treated fairly and children are no different. When they think of another child's needs, share, or include others, praise them. Let them know that treating others the way they would like to be treated is a good policy.
- Offer opportunities for mingling – In a setting, you can supervise, you may choose to invite neighborhood peers or school friends into your home for playtime. Play regularly at the local park, join community groups, attend library readings for kids, or enroll your child in a preschool program.
SOCIAL SKILLS DEVELOPMENT WITH KIDPOWERED TOYS
KidPowered carries toys with which your child can imagine, pretend, and be creative. Sit on the floor and have a camping adventure with your child. Pretend to be a beautician, a homemaker, or an EMS worker with them. Want to teach your child about animals? Check out our farm set. With KidPowered toys, your child's play is only as limited as to their imagination.
Check out our vast array of toys today.