Importance of Play and how to facilitate play at home
Playing with children is essential to support development as it ‘contributes to the cognitive, physical, social and emotional well-being of children’ (Ginsburg, 2007).
Engaging in play at home with your child will help to build their speech, oral language, fine & gross motor skills, and social skills. Play helps to build vocabulary, follow instructions, communicate in sentences, encourage creativity, build relationships and work together as a team.
How can I facilitate play at home?
As parents you play an important role in supporting with play at home. It is important to;
Create an environment that supports play
- Play inside or outside
- Limit distractors such as a TV or iPad
- Set up a variety of different activities – Lego station, colouring in station, dress ups, Minecraft drawing competition – whatever interests your children!
Allow enough time for play
- Busy schedules can be tricky, but allowing enough time to engage in play is important – try to allow anywhere from 30-60 minutes.
Encourage different types of play
- Physical play – running, jumping, skipping, dancing, cutting, colouring.
- Play with objects – building blocks, Lego, doctors kits, playing with dinosaurs, playing with dolls.
- Pretend (Symbolic) play – having a tea party, playing school, playing doctor.
- Games with rules – board games, card games, family group games (hide and seek, celebrity heads, etc)
Examples of how goals can be targeted during play:
Speech – if your child has a speech error use play to encourage lots of repetition of the sound. For example, for a child that struggles with the ‘L’ sound use Lego for lots of opportunity to practice. “Here is the Lego man”, “Can you find the Lego block?” or “Let’s build a Lego tower” as whether you’re saying it or they are, it’s great practice!
Vocabulary – choose 1-2 new words and talk about what they mean while playing a game. For example, introduce the names of new shapes while colouring them in together – e.g. hexagon and rhombus. Afterwards you might play a game to see who can find things in your house that are also shaped like a rhombus or a hexagon!
Following instructions – focus on how many instructions you would like to work (1, 2 or 3 instructions) on and try to introduce new concepts words (next to, under, in front, before, after, first/next/last). For example, if you’re playing Simon Says – “Simon says touch your head, then touch your toes”, “Simon says put the pencil next to the fridge” or “Simon says first touch your nose, next spin around”
Social skills– if your child struggles to take turns at conversation, this can be targeted during play. For example, while ‘playing school’ you are able to recreate conversations your child might be having in the playground – encourage them to say hello, ask questions, or ask you or their siblings to play.
The opportunities are endless when it comes to targeting goals in play – be creative!
Most importantly – get involved! Play is a fun way to engage with your child. Follow their lead, be silly and work things out together.
Here are some links of ideas to play at home:
Ginsburg, K. (2007) The importance of play in promoting a health child development and maintaining strong parent-child bonds. Pediartics, 119(1), 182-191. Doi: 10.1542/ped.2006-2697