After a long journey from pregnancy to giving birth and then making a crying baby go to sleep, in other words the journey from searching about baby names to baby development stages, it is then time to search more about the motor skills growth and the support that a child needs to pass on to the next stage from Nursery to Primary school. You may feel tired but you should be proud of yourself! As a parent we all feel proud of ourselves that we were able to manage until the stage where our child is grown up enough to start school soon. Here are some suggestions for you to explore the path for this journey and manage it better through the advantage of ‘playing’ since this is a key role in their engagement with the outside world.
1. Play encourages the child to interact
Play encourages children at a very early age to engage and interact with those around them. It allows children to use their creativity while developing their imagination. When they use their imagination, they are more open, less shy and it helps them to communicate with others. It helps kids to conquer their fears and build their confidence, which is very important for when they get older and move on to High School etc. Playing persuades children to strengthen their teamwork skills so they can easily play with others. For example, when they play in the garden, they can interact with nature by playing with mud and insects such as worms, snails and butterflies. You can also provide them with a ‘mud kitchen’ or simply give them an old pan, a bowl and a wooden spoon. This helps them to imagine they are a chef cooking for their parents and other children which gives them this opportunity to be less shy and communicate more while pretending to serve and sell food. This very simple example of outdoor kid activities is the perfect toy for 2 years old girls and boys.
Moreover, play is an excellent drive for the development of movement such as spoon or pencil grabbing and using scissors or cutlery, physical skills such as riding a bicycle or skating, cognitive development and emotional strength. Pre-schoolers need to learn kid games that help with motor skills growth. Having good motor control allows children to explore the world around them and also helps with their cognitive development. Gross Motor Skills are the kind of movements that are linked to the large muscles like our legs and arms etc. Fine Motor Skills are the movements linked to the smaller muscles like those in our hands and wrists.
2. Play teaches children to work in groups so they learn to share and resolve conflicts together; this decreases the likelihood of a tantrum
This teaches them how to maintain emotional control in threatening situations. Emotional Control also known as self-regulation is a very important skill which children need to learn by doing some activities to manage their feelings and behaviour in different situations. For example when they lose in a game! We weren't born with emotional regulations. Toddlers have no emotional regulation skills- their emotions are unsteady. Emotional learning begins at a very young age, as children discover a wide range of emotions. Here we try to give 17 simple examples of self-regulated activities for children. If you are looking for ideas for gifts for 2 year olds and above, perhaps you can be inspired by these!
1- Freeze Dance:
Freeze Dance is a very well-known game among toddlers. We guess you've heard about it, as its always been in a list of children's games for parties. It is also a good game for having family fun. It is to practice regulations movement and behaviour.
In this activity, as the music plays, everyone dances. When the music stops, players must freeze immediately and hold that position until the music begins again. Players dance quickly for fast-tempo songs and slowly for slow-tempo songs. It is good to use different types of music each time you play this game, such as Pop, Waltz, Blues, Rock and Roll, Jazz etc. It’s great for regulating the speed of movements. In our opinion it is also a very useful time to make children understand different types of music as it makes them more open-minded and adds to their creativity. You can increase and reduce the gap between songs. Giving children more time to move to the music increases the chance to lose their inhibitions and they have lots more fun in their movements.
2- Traffic Lights help children to deal with their emotions:
Traffic Lights is the ideal game for outdoor kids’ activities because you need some space to run around. It is also great fun to play it indoors during the rainy days if you have enough room. During the game, participants can use both verbal and visual communication. The game is very simple. There are choices of three instructions all relating to the colours of traffic lights - Red, Amber or Green. On the word ‘Red’ players must stand still and silent. When ‘Amber’ is called, they wander around quite slowly. On the word ‘Green’ participants start moving around quite fast. Players take turns to direct the traffic and shout out the instructions. Apart from words, a DIY homemade traffic light can be used as a visual example. During the game children can also relate their emotions to the colours and the traffic light helps them to find strategies to turn red emotions, which most of the time relates to anger, into the green positive emotions (like happiness etc) through the yellow colour.
There are many more games and indoor/outdoor activities to practice emotional control in children. Here are the rest of the examples:
4- Feelings in a jar
5- Card games for kids
6- Musical Chairs
7- Calm Down Yoga
8- Simon Says
9- Partner Obstacle course
10- Duck Duck Goose
11- Freeze Tag
12- Hide and Seek
14- Handclapping games
16- Parachute play
17- Spot it
Try to play as much as you can with your child in your free time as it is crucial for your child's cognitive development. The self-regulated games have been listed because it is when the child has gained the ability to understand his/her emotions/feelings and manage their behaviour and reactions.
3. Play helps children practice decision-making and improve their problem-solving skills
There are lots of intriguing games to find out what helps children regulate and enhance their readiness for learning and their general learning behaviour. Games such as Building Blocks and Making Marble Run reminds us in our childhood how we managed to play by ourselves, to make a balanced wall or create obstacles for the marbles and solve the problems. Don't be quick to solve problems for your child when they are playing- they really need to learn to solve their own problems to help them adjust to possible problems in the future. You can just help them by breaking the problem into manageable parts and guide them verbally how to solve it step by step. Another example is that when they are playing outdoors in a playground, especially at the age where they can walk confidently, do not always grab their arm physically to climb up a ladder, to go down on a slide or even to slide down the pole. A verbal guide instead of a physical one will help them to try and decide how to manage it. It is also beneficial for motor skills growth.
The creative arts and performing arts are really helpful because children can learn how to practice failing at certain things and solve the problems one by one. A simple example is when they are painting with acrylic paint or watercolour, they learn that if wet paint layers on top of each other, the colours will eventually mix together- they lose their original colours and create new ones. Let’s say you are painting blue clouds on top of a yellow sun, you then get a green sun! To solve this problem, they just need to learn to be patient and wait till the paint dries completely or if they want it to dry faster then they can blow on it.
4. Lack of play can affect a child’s development negatively
Play is any spontaneous or planned activity which provides enjoyment, entertainment and amusement. Not only does the absence of play take away a chance of enjoyment and happiness from a child but more importantly, the lack of play affects their development to express their feelings to other children, and this can cause anxiety in the future. It can lead to problems of paying attention to others, which means they will not have the ability to listen to what others are saying. They need to learn to understand other people’s perspective and have self-control skills. A lack of these skills can cause aggressive behaviour. We don’t want this information to worry you parents or carers- it is only for raising awareness about the fact that playing matters a lot in children’s lives. Don’t sit down them in front of T.V. for hours or calm them down with your smart phone! Don’t take away their opportunity to run and jump during play time by carrying them in a pushchair in places such as shopping centres! They seriously need to play at least one hour per day. You can find an activity centre for babies in your local area that can even provide an educational toy for 2 years old and under so you don’t even have to spend lots of money for toys at home! We have provided a list of toys for children of different ages here in our blog ‘6 things to know before you buy a toy for a child’:
“Toddlers should spend at least one hour a day in free, unstructured play, and at least thirty minutes engaged in active, adult led play. Older children need even more time to play each day. Think of play as a prescription from a doctor.” If you need more information please check out this website about why play matters.
Hopefully you have understood our emphasis on the importance of playing on children and the positive or negative impact it can have on their development as they are growing up.