Do you remember getting your first android or iphone and thinking “wow this is different”. You probably discarded the manual and started pushing buttons. Before long you could send messages, download the Facebook app, set up your emails and use it for directions. How did you learn? Probably by investigating the features and asking someone for help when you needed it.
Babies and children do the same thing! They learn about their world as they play.
Babies start to get control of their body at around 3 months. They love to kick their legs, wave their arms and attempt to put everything in their mouth. As they explore the sensations of their toes, the taste and texture of a toy, or the sound of a rattle their brain is processing a huge amount of information. This is play!
Once babies understand more about themselves and their surroundings they seek out new challenges. Every new thing they see, listen to, smell, touch or taste is a learning experience.
When a toddler stacks blocks into a tower then knocks them down again it’s great fun. It is also a way of understanding how things go together and how movement can change inanimate objects. Every time they repeat this sequence their brain is processing what happens. At the same time they are developing motor skills, hand eye coordination, concentration, manipulation and visual skills. They are processing the colours, shapes and form of their construction along with listening and language.
Talk about information overload, no wonder babies and toddlers need a day sleep!
One of the best things you can do to help your child learn through play is provide a variety of interesting toys that make your child do all the work . Try to avoid bright plastic, lights, bells and noises toys. The only thing they learn from these is cause and effect. They push a button to make a noise. Not very stimulating.
Choose toys like blocks, nesting toys, musical toys or wooden animals. A simple set of nesting bowls can be stacked, nested, used to hide things under or put things into. Put the red block into the red bowl, use the blue bowl as the duck pond in your pretend zoo and the green one can be where you park the car.
Young children are very inventive which is why a few quality multi purpose toys are a great investment to encourage their creativity and imagination. The next time you are shopping for toys remember BABIES AND CHILDREN LEARN THROUGH PLAY!