Play is ‘the work’ of children and essential for good development

Over recent weeks parents have been bombarded with learning materials from schools, nurseries and others for home schooling their children whilst families are confined at home during this period of ‘Lock Down’. Concern about the impact the unprecedented restrictions of ‘Lock Down’ have on children’s emotional wellbeing and their development is understandable, and not to be underestimated, but it is important to remember that babies are born ready to communicate, grow and develop.

Opportunities for ‘play’ are essential for good development. Play enables children to find out about themselves and their world, and it provides the foundations for future learning and development.
Play has been described as ‘the work’ of children. It incorporates exploration, experimenting, creativity, language acquisition, development, expression of ideas; it supports physical development and co- ordination, co-operation, sharing, respect and so much more. It is important that babies and children have opportunities for both free play and organised play activity, on their own and with others.

Here are just a few play ideas that support children’s learning and can be easily adapted to a range of home and family situations where space is restricted and resources limited:

  • Ball play activity: 2 children and mum and or dad sitting on the floor in a small circle, legs stretched out in a V, touching toes with the person next to them, slowly rolling a ball from one to the other round the circle. This can also be played sitting at a table with a small ball or marble. Encourages physical development, language, co operation, and turn-taking.
  • Volleywack: Blow up 4 balloons and secure them in small plastic bags, tie the bags securely. Gently tap the bag to keep it in the air and see how long, or for how many taps, the bag is kept in the air. If more space is available, perhaps outside, this can be played with more children and adults in pairs or teams. (take care and supervise the blowing up of balloons to avoid children putting them in their mouths)
  • Kitchen Towel game: Using rolls of kitchen paper towels, play safe skittles. Set up 4 or 6 paper towel rolls as skittles, then using a ‘ball’, made out of soft socks rolled together, take turns to roll the ball to knock the towel skittles over. Make different sized ‘sock balls’, adjusted to take account of the development age and capability of the players.
  • Cloud watching: Looking out of the window or lying on the grass, look for and identify shapes or objects in the clouds, count the number of clouds or find the biggest or smallest cloud. This can be enjoyed by all ages. Babies enjoy watching the movement of the wind in the trees or the washing on the line!

You will have other ideas, please share them with us and others.