With schools, nurseries and workplaces mostly closed, parents may be feeling a lot of pressure to keep their children entertained at home. For most of us, home-schooling our children is a challenge, one that feels especially intimidating at the moment. Luckily for little ones, playtime at home can provide a lot of the same educational fun as your toddler’s most-missed nursery activities – all you need is a few of their favourite toys. So, if you or someone you know is feeling the pressure at the moment, keep reading for our roundup of the best benefits of playtime and the toys that can help your toddler to learn the most.
Active play, whether it’s running around outside with a ball or playing inside with building blocks, has a whole host of benefits for your little learners. Motor skills, hand-eye coordination, balance and strength are all involved in physical play, which is also the easiest way for your toddler to use up all of their natural energy (and then hopefully need a big nap!). Prepare your tot for their first steps with a wooden dolls pram or activity walker, treat your little thrillseeker to their own scooter (and matching helmet) or work on a little racer’s stability with a personalised race car ride-on.
Playtime is your child’s time: a few hours every day when they can control their own little world, but this doesn’t always go according to plan. A pillow-den wall could topple, their favourite doll could go missing or a younger sibling could rearrange their perfect picnic when they’re not looking. During this time, little ones can experience and express the same emotions that they feel in ‘real life’: playtime provides a safe space where frustration, sadness, anger, excitement and satisfaction can all be practiced and processed within the comfort and security of your family home.
Although it is currently more of a challenge than usual for all of us to practice and develop social skills, playtime can present a unique opportunity for our children to do so. No, We’re not talking about their real-life friends, we’re talking about their toys. Ask your little one and we are sure that they will gleefully explain to you all about their toy fox’s mischievous nature, their bunny’s naughty streak or their ballerina doll’s favourite food. These toys possess a variety of personalities and may even squabble among themselves, which your toddler will try to mediate and resolve.
During playtime, your little ones’ brains never stop whirring – why do you think they need a nap afterwards? There is always so much to concentrate on: how can they fit the correct shape into its corresponding space, which xylophone panels should they hit in what order to play a happy tune and what order do the different numbers go in to count to ten? Until they are old enough to sit through formal lessons, playtime is where your children learn to reason, remember and think through problems and processes in their everyday lives.
Children possess a special power: they can dream up entire fantasy worlds within the four walls of their own bedroom. Even in the height of lockdown, your little one could be busy establishing their career as a world-famous surgeon or baking up a storm in their Parisian patisserie. Through this imaginative play, children can develop their creativity, work through their fears and boost their self-confidence with all of their favourite toys.
If you are using toys to teach your children through this difficult time, don’t forget to tag us @My1stYears and use #My1stYears so we can play along with you.
My 1st Years x