The Right Children's Gift
As we plan, avoid awkward family situations, and try to maintain a sense of calm preparedness, Christmas looms closer. And while so-and-so from Wednesday’s yoga class said that she had everything sorted by July, most normal people don’t think that far ahead, or even want to. The last minute rush to get all the presents sorted, however, can result in a gift that gets forgotten a few weeks after the novelty has worn off, but it doesn’t have to.
There are so many trinkets, shiny things, flashy, and noise making toys out there that we, as adults, are spoilt for choice. But choosing a present that has value more than the price tag isn’t always easy. Now we aren’t talking about an alphabet book, or an educational video game about the human body and the weather cycle; old fashioned play is important, and encouraging play with toys is amazing for your child’s development.
Play allows children to develop their creativity and imagination as well as strengthening their cognitive, emotional, and coordination skills. Playing in groups or pairs also encourages children to problem solve, negotiate, share, and understand themselves better. For more information visit: https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/119/1/182. To encourage more variety of play, in groups and alone, a great play space is ideal, and one full of lots of crafts, books, and board games is going to encourage a lot of child centred and fun activities. If you’re play space is lacking a bit of organisation or inspiration, check out our Children’s Range for great ideas.
There is also a lot of positive research that suggests role playing activities that mimic scenarios that children see their adult role models perform, can be extremely beneficial. Cooking in a play kitchen, for example, is a safe way for children to become confident with a skill that is going to be very important in their adult life. Imaginative food preparation is also going to get kids organising and thinking ahead, cooking is a process that requires a level of confidence and can also be a team effort, developing various social skills. For more information visit: http://www.earlyyearsresources.co.uk/blog/2018/05/play-kitchen-benefits/. As children get older, play cooking can also involve numeracy skills and problem solving too. When children move on from wooden fruit and vegetables they won’t be nervous to help in the kitchen and will already have an interest in the food that they eat that will benefit their health and relationship with eating. But the kitchen isn’t the only adult mimicking scenario, children can drive, and have their own little home, all developing fine motor skills, confidence and coordination while being a whole lot of fun.
It can be hard to change the thinking that if it doesn’t look like an abacus, it can’t possibly be educational. But toys have evolved and kids are still fundamentally kids. Play for play has huge social, emotional, and educational benefits all tied into a bundle of fun. So let the kids be kids this Christmas, encourage the right kind of play and they won’t even know how much they’re learning.