There is so much information about parenting and what children need that it can be overwhelming for any parent or carer.
One of the most common parenting questions is: What should my child be doing during each day to give them the best start in life?
The good news is that helping your child’s development need not be expensive; in fact, just spending time in play with your child is one of the best ways to help their development. Time off screens and devices in free-play is known to promote development in social skills, imagination and motor skills. Like adults, children learn best when they are motivated and engaged in what they are doing, so encouraging play and allowing kids to choose their own adventure is the best way for them to learn.
All aspects of a child’s brain development benefit from lots of time playing. Through play with other children and adults, they learn sharing, turn-taking, pretending, new language and how to use their body.
Play is child led. It is not the same as following an adult’s instructions. Play often doesn’t need anything special, like expensive toys or classes. The best way to play with kids is get down on the floor and join in what they are exploring. Pretty soon, anything can be a fun game.
Some children have difficulty with developing play skills. The may not be able to join in with friends or pretend at the same age as their peers. If you are worried about how your child (aged up to 4) is playing, you can make an appointment with a Child and Family Health nurse ( don’t forget to take your blue book for a developmental check). It’s a free service and is available in a Community Health Centre near you. Then if the nurse thinks there is a need for further investigation, they will refer your child to see the occupational therapist, physiotherapist or speech pathologist. The nurse may also suggest that you have your child’s vision or hearing tested.
There are many great resources on play, check out the info from Raising Children Network for some great tips.
This blog was provided by the Occupational Therapy Team, Child and Family Health Service of Nepean Blue Mountains Local Health District