Learning

Empower your child through play

Did you know that play is not only vital for your child’s wellbeing and learning ­ it’s empowering too! But did you know that by encouraging your child’s voice in play, you are also helping them to develop personal growth? This is known as play empowerment.

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The term play empowerment is basically about encouraging children to follow their own interests and choices in play –allowing them ‘power’. This sense of control is great for helping children to build independence, capability, self-esteem, confidence and resilience, plus it also helps them learn to learn, sparking their curiosity and use of imagination.

Understanding child-led play

Children don’t always need to be occupied with structured activities and managed play. A simple way to encourage play empowerment is to give children a selection of toys and games and let them freely move around and between them in their play space. This can be especially helpful for children who are not naturally interested in open-ended toys and play.

For example, put out on the floor or table some empty cereal boxes, play dough, paper, coloured pencils, Connetix magnetic tiles, wooden blocks and dolls. Then give children the freedom to make choices in their play, encouraging them as they do so. You can still be involved and introduce them to different opportunities to play – that’s very different to adding an adult agenda to the mix.

Allowing a child to knock down something an adult has built or created and change it into a totally different form is a great way to show a child that their play and autonomy is important. A great example of play empowerment is when mum or dad build a tower or rocket with Connetix tiles or something similar, and then the children knock it down and create something else entirely!

Allowing a child to knock down something an adult has built or created and change it into a totally different form is a great way to show a child that their play and autonomy is important.

Play that promotes empowerment

These include:

Physical and movement play – this might involve large or whole-body movements and developing gross motor skills, like running around an obstacle course or kicking a ball. Or it might concentrate on smaller fine motor movement, like grasping and picking up a toy, or knocking over a domino run.

Functional play – this happens when a child uses an item for its intended purpose during play, such as rolling a ball. It’s simply about enjoying the experience of an object and exploring the properties of that object through play.

Constructive and symbolic play – in this scenario, children use items in their environment to create something new, such as using bricks and then pretending that the finished product is a bed for their dolls.

Fantasy, imaginative and pretend play – nearly every child loves pretend play! Make-believe and role play can help children dive into the realms of fantasy, and can naturally encourage children to work on empathy.

Games with rules – these are all about exploring laws, rules and social constructs. They can be pretty big concepts but it’s something children really enjoy! Board games are great for this, and they support children socially too, in understanding and making relationships with others.

Storytelling and narrative play – helps children to build and develop their language and communication skills. It also fosters language and comprehension skills.

Open-ended play is unstructured and without limitations. It encourages children to take the lead in play, exploring and learning.

One of the wonderful things about open-ended toys is that children can use them to play in a different way every time. They’re child-led, with no directions or specific rules about the way they are used. They offer a great way for children to express themselves creatively and encourage imaginative play.

Open-ended toys, such as blocks, train sets, dolls, Connetix magnetic tiles and playdough, make excellent tools for this type of play as they encourage children to make their own choices, and there’s no way to get it wrong. Look for toys where the possibilities for play are endless.

These are also likely to be the toys that will grow with children as they develop and continue to engage with them in more complex ways as their skills develop. And of course, for children, it’s all about having fun!

Visit www.connetixtiles.com

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