A child’s learning is nothing with some play. It is important for parents to set up their home environment to match up to their child’s development and growing needs.
Here are some things to keep in mind in the first year:
- As a parent, you can expect a lot of chewing, grasping and dropping within the first year. Make sure the floor is cleaned often and well and all toxic items are kept away from your child’s reach.
- Place pictures of real objects, animals and people at your child's level. Avoid cartoon pictures or abstract work of art. Your child during his first year needs to see things as they are.
- If your child starts to crawl, lay out different textured cloths like silk, cotton, wool and vinyl for him to experience. Children are at their sensitive period for sensorial learning. They are actively absorbing the information around them.
- As amusing as it is, your child loves and enjoys his image. Installing a low mirror in the bedroom can be an interesting idea. Your child will enjoy looking at himself as well as the reflection of everything else in the room.
- Your child will soon learn to start climbing. Encourage him by placing piles of pillows or well-padded climbing structures. This way, even if he loses his balance, you and the pillows will make sure no harm is done.
- Places like child-friendly parks are ideal for a day out. There’s something about the outdoors that makes the growth and learning a lot more exciting and beneficial.
- Sing to your baby. The sound of your voice is literally music to his ears. You could also play an instrument like the guitar if it’s something you’re good at. His playtime is bound to be more entertaining.
- When he engages you in play, take his lead and follow him through. You can be your child's guide in finding out that this world is a secure, friendly and interesting place to be.
On your baby's 2nd year:
- When your child enters the second year, he seeks independence. He starts to grab the spoon from mummy’s hand and tries to do everything by himself. He imitates daddy's behavior. This is a great time to play copycat games. Many skills can be learned when parents play such interactive games with the child.
- Did you know that your everyday routines can simply be ‘play’ for your toddler? Whether he pours water on the floor and cleans it up himself or simply dusting with the duster, this new behavior can be frustrating to new parents. To help him develop independent skills, parents should create an environment for their toddler to move around freely and decide what he can do for himself. Toddlers ideally need their own chair, a table and a cupboard or shelf within their reach without any adult supervision. Adults should realize that children need to learn practical life skills like pouring, spooning, wiping and wringing a wet cloth. This is part of their home environment where they see their parents work in a similar manner.
- Children are full of interest and enthusiasm. Show your toddler how to do simple food preparation work, like spreading jam on his bread. The child regards this work as his play. Once your child has self-help skills to look after himself, he develops a positive self-image. He will be more confident. Toddlers who are occupied with practical life activities, work with a purpose. They usually are calm and happy because their work is satisfying.
- When selecting toys and equipment for toddlers, it’s good to have an assortment of wood, fabric, metal and plastic materials. The more realistic the toy is, the more amused your child will be. Some of your old clothes, briefcase, purse, magazines, and even wooden spoons can be fun elements to include in his playtime.
On your baby's 3rd year:
- It’s true when they say that people and imagination are the greatest playmates. Upon entering third year, children's play becomes more complex.
- If your child has learnt to gallop like a horse, give him a broom or a scarf for increase his interest in the activity. Even when babies splash water in the bathtub, a plastic cup with a hole can give them the added dimension of pouring.
- When your child reaches preschool years, he needs other children to play with. Companions make it possible for children to learn and share, be social, cooperate and see other points of view. It’s a good idea to welcome your neighbors' children into your home for at least some part of the day. If not, send your child to a playgroup or nursery school for some group time.
- Encourage your child to explore all kinds of play materials. Avoid stereotyping boys and girls toys. Make everything gender-equal as this is when your child will grasp what is correctly taught to him or her. If your son wants to “dress up”, let him. If your girl wants to play with action figures, let her.
- Children benefit more if the culture at home is not limited to one ethnicity. Serving all kinds of ethnic foods and exposing your child to different culture-centric toys can help children grow in more understanding world of humanity.
- Playtime is when children discover and learn about the world and of course about themselves too. From imbibing useful skills to generating good ideas, your child is at his best when he’s playing.
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