Toddlers and Play

by Teacher Nancy D. Sivilai  

Through play young toddlers develop their social, emotional, physical, intellectual, moral and creativity strengths.  The word play might be understood as not doing anything of value or without a serious purpose, as often it is not teacher-directed and there is no end product to display.  However, good play gives children an opportunity to explore, experiment, create, and imagine.  

Good Play will:

  1.  Promote Significant Mental Skills, it provides an opportunity to develop the five senses and expand a child’s attention span.  Children learn to develop their problem solving and thinking skills, creativity, math, social and language skills 
  2. Promote Physical Development, it provides exercise to strengthen children’s  muscles and bodies
  3. Promote Emotional Development, it provides ways to express thoughts and ideas and try out ways of behaving.  Play provides practice in social skills.
  4.  Promotes Language Development, it provides the best environment for language to thrive.

As a teacher, we look at stages of development, like all other aspects of development, play progresses through stages.  One stage will prepare for the next stage.  Toddlers play behavior is primarily solitary, onlooking and parallel.  Toddlers need classroom  or free play to be spontaneous.  Group activities will be short because of their attention span.  Toddlers will act alone and independently of others.   In parallel Play, toddlers individually play with toys similar to those used by nearby children and engage in basically the same activity but not yet sharing ideas and goals.  Cooperative play will happen later.

Do ‘s for helping your toddler engage in play:

  1. Do offer your toddlers fewer pieces in puzzles to match for success to learn simple concepts of shape and colors.  Your toddler will gain more from materials matched to his stage of development.
  2. Do display toys for your toddler to see instead of boxes.  This will avoid dumping to find just one toy of interest.
  3. Do offer toys in good repair.  It is frustrating to put a puzzle only to find the last piece missing.  Any vehicle with a missing wheel can be dangerously sharp.
  4. Do avoid offering all toys at the same time, If you have 6 puzzles bring out only two.
  5. Do encourage your toddler to put toys and materials away where they belong.
  6. Do demonstrate how to use materials such as fit the LEGOS together, then step back and let your toddler do it on his own.  The more your toddler does it the better your toddler will become.  
  7. Do offer household items such as boxes, paper cups for stacking, or dried rice for measuring.   Some of the best toys are not store bought.
  8. Do set your toys area with tall shelves against the wall so you can always view your toddler at all times.  
  9. Do give your toddler many opportunities to make choices when playing so that your toddler feels in control which results in his/her being able to accept responsibility.
  10. Do talk to your toddler and expand language development by answering questions and increasing concept understanding, and social interactions.

Have fun playing with your toddler and watching him/her develop in each domain of learning through play.