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Eat, Sleep, Play

Phil McInnes

These days there is so much pressure to excel academically, it's easy to understand why parents and teachers fall prey to adopting formal learning methods for children and even babies, but is this ultimately causing more harm than good? Developmental and child psychologists seem to think so.

Play is a child's natural state, and it is an integral part of their social, physical and cognitive development. When children play with others, they are figuring out the subtle intricacies of social dynamics, and how to express and manage their emotions. This helps develop emotional maturity and sets up children for positive interactions with peers, which is needed for a successful career at school and in life. By playing with your child, you are also building confidence - showing them they are fun to be around and worthy of your time.

During play, children engage with complex storytelling in a risk free environment, which encourages them to try out new sounds and vocabulary; all of which will help in literacy and problem solving later on in life. Mathematical concepts are easily grasped by playing with blocks and balancing objects (Janet-you may want to add here). Play also helps children understand more abstract theories such as gravity;  through dropping, pouring and bouncing.

Play is enormously beneficial for physical development, children are given the opportunity to practise and build on important skills such as pincer grip for writing. When children involve their core muscles during play, it ensures that they are able to sit for required periods at school without getting tired, which can impact their ability to concentrate.

The toys we buy for our children can obviously make a big difference in their development. Choose toys that engage children with different challenges that encourage various skill sets. Whether the toys are more traditionally educational in nature, like puzzles or shape sorters, or whether they promote imaginative play, it is a good idea to invest in a good quality toy that your children can use for years

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