As a parent or carer it is important to recognise that play is a child’s way of being in the world. Through play children have the opportunity to learn both about themselves and the world around them.
The urge to play begins the moment a child is born and is part of a natural drive which supports the development of skills and abilities and enables the child to explore the environment in which they live.
Early play is critical to forming close attachments between parents/carers and their children. Playing with your child provides a great opportunity for both of you to benefit from the shared play experiences that help to strengthen the bond between parent and child.
Children can, and will play anywhere – at the bus stop, in the supermarket, in the car, at the park, in school, at home, at the beach and so on. Children will play with or without equipment and materials, with others or on their own.
It is important to remember that good quality play need not cost anything except time. Setting aside some time each day that is free from distractions, where you and your child/children can be relaxed in each other’s company is a great start. Playing with your child can be anything from tickling your baby’s tummy, playing peek-a-boo with your face hidden behind your hands, to playing hide and seek in your garden or local park.
Children learn from everything they see and hear around them. Children interact with the world around them in a playful way. Play offers an opportunity for curiosity and experimentation and allows children to be themselves and express self. It offers opportunity to be someone else and try out different roles, important elements of growing up.