Why play is important in early childhood
Play begins very early in infancy and helps children to develop a wide range of intellectual, emotional skills, to interact with others and their environment. Psychologists have long dashed aside the belief that infants lack the ability to form complex ideas. Psychologists also mistakenly believed that children needed to be able to speak in order to develop abstract thought and knowledge. They have discovered that these are misconceptions. It is now known that very young children are competent, active agents who are capable of all of these complex mental activities.
Researchers have discovered that infants do not come into the world as “blank slates.” Their studies show that infants are able to perceive, know, remember and even count as early as five months.
Ways in which play help children to develop
support emotional development.
learn about their surroundings.
build stronger brains.
develop their attention spans.
learn to focus on specific tasks.
strengthen their motors skills or use of muscles.
track objects with their eyes.
develop the ability to coordinate movements between hands and eyes or hand-eye coordination.
Children don’t need expensive toys in order to learn through play
Since the aim of play is development of the child, the price of toys is unimportant. Rather, children need:
– Uninterrupted and unstructured play time.
– safe play spaces where they can explore and interact with materials freely.
– supplies that enhance creativity as the child plays. These include boxes, spoons, blankets, and bowls.
Play activities for a 16 month old child
Mom Junction (2019), shares 15 play activities for a 16 month old. Here are a few:
Pass the ball – develops Hand-eye coordination and object tracking skills
– Two people sit at equal distances from each other.
– Roll a small ball towards the baby.
– Once baby catches the ball, ask him or her to roll it to the partner.
– Partner passes the ball back to you.
– Repeat the same cycle and prompt the baby only if he or she becomes confused.
Catch the floating balls – develops Hand-object movement coordination, strengthen finger muscles
You will need small colorful plastic balls, Basket-like bucket or container of any kind.
– Put a few colorful plastic balls into the baby’s bathing tub.
– Give the baby a bucket, and ask him to fish out all the floating balls with the bucket.
– Show baby how to fish out the balls if he or she seems confused.
– Alternatively, you could fill a bucket with plastic balls and push it to the bottom of the tub.
– Pull out the bucket when the baby is ready for the activity.
– Baby will squeal with happiness as the balls rush up to the surface.
Stacking cups – develops nimbleness of fingers and strengthens finger muscles
– Give a few cups to your baby
– Show him or her how to stack them.
– Hand cups to the baby once he or she understands how to play the game.
– Allow baby to stack the cups to strengthen the grip
– Once stacked, let the baby remove each cup at a time and hand it over to you.