Play-based activities are essential for a child’s development, growth and happy childhood. While there is a range of online activities for your young child, the AAP recommends media use for children aged 2 and above to be limited to less than 1 hour per day, to encourage creativity and active learning.
As such, it is important to let your child have fun with offline play activities. Here we explore 3 types of play which are both educational and fun!
1. Physical Play
Physical active play is important for toddlers to develop muscle control, gross and fine motor skills. Such play allows children to expend their energy, which encourages better sleeping and eating habits. Physical play not only contributes to your child’s physical development, but also their social skills, such as negotiation and letting out their emotions. As a general guide, toddlers generally need at least 1 hr of physically active play (2 hrs for 2-5 year olds) per day.
Some examples of play activities you can try with your little one is to engage in rough-and-tumble play such as playing catch where children discover their physical flexibility. Further, bringing your child to a playground or park near you allows your child to explore new environments, enhance their sense of balance and coordination and build their confidence.
Try this with your child:
If you’re stuck at home, here’s an activity for you and your child: Set up an 'obstacle' course with some pillows and blankets or have some fun with a few balloons! Such activities are just as fun as going outside, and all it takes is a pinch of imagination and creativity.
2. Communication Play
The next type of play we will be exploring is Communication Play. Communication Play refers to play which makes use of words or gestures to bring across a certain message. Play activities such as charades, role-play and poetry are all examples of Communication Play. There are also many benefits associated with Communication Play, which include enabling young children to develop their speech, enhancing thinking abilities, and improving their creativity.
Try these with your child:
One immersive activity you can try is Charades, where you demonstrate an action using words, and ask your child to guess the action. For instance, you can act out a scenario such as watering flowers, and ask your child to guess the scenario. We encourage you to take turns with your child, so that they also learn to engage in non-verbal communication. Remember that children learn best through repetition, so feel free to repeat this activity throughout the week. By engaging your child in this immersive activity, they will learn to read body language and nurture social skills such as cooperation!
Another fun activity you can do at home with your child is Pretend Play. This play refers to the make believe world, through which you can let your child’s imagination run wild. In Pretend play, the child enacts real or potential experiences. For instance, your child can pretend to be a chef, doctor or even enact a scene from a book that they have read. Through this activity children can gain better memory, creativity and empathy in their early childhood experiences.
3. Chores Play
As full-time parents, we are often busy and would rather do the chores ourselves, instead of explaining to our children the tasks to be done. However, chores serve as excellent play opportunities for your toddler as you actively engage them in serve-and-return interactions.
What are the merits of incorporating these activities into your child’s lifestyle? Assigning your child chores instils a sense of responsibility, teamwork and cooperation within your child, prompting them to be active contributors of a household. Performing chores also helps your child understand their environment and satisfies their curiosity about how the world works.
In addition to the above, research also shows that completing chores which involve movement can benefit children cognitively. In their early years, a child’s brain is subject to a high degree of changes, with studies showing that the learning that they experience having an impact on their brain’s anatomy. As such, movement-based tasks, such as arranging and categorizing food items are essential to a child’s cognitive development and their reading and writing skills.
Try this with your child:
To integrate chores play into your child’s daily routine, pick some developmentally-appropriate chores, and explain to them how they should complete them. Some examples of such chores include doing the dishes or helping out with the laundry - simple yet effective!
In summary, it is important to expose your child to different types of creative play in their early years to aid their physical and cognitive development!
American Psychological Association. (2019). Media use in childhood: Evidence-based recommendations for caregivers. American Psychological Association. Retrieved January 3, 2022.
Halloran, J.(2022). Communication Play — Encourage Play. Retrieved January 3, 2022.
Lee, K. (2021). Why Giving Kids Chores Is Good for Kids. Retrieved January 3, 2022.
MSF. (2018). Rough-and-Tumble Play. Retrieved January 3, 2022.
UNICEF. (n.d). Key practice: Play and communication with children. Retrieved January 3, 2022.