Children’s social and emotional development is as important as physical and cognitive development. Parents might wonder what could be the resources or ways to improve socio-emotional skills in children. Which tools, materials, kits, books to buy or which workshops to attend? The answer is actually very simple: play. Play is a very important and critical activity for the development of children. However, for some, play is a plain, futile, waste of time activity. It can be a way of keeping the children entertained or distracted but, the language of children is play. Children don’t have the cognitive or necessary communication skills to express themselves like adults. With play, a child can express himself freely, develops skills such as problem solving, analytical thinking, decision making, and empathy. Through and with play, children learn to make friends, explore their environment, take responsibility, develop self-regulation and self-awareness. Play can take place anywhere, at any time. Parents don’t need to buy expensive or luxurious toys; the play itself is valuable, fun, and enjoyable. Play is a natural and invaluable resource which reveals the child's experiences, emotions and perception of the world for those who know how to observe.
Tips for play time at home:
- If your child has a room on his/her own: you can design the room according to the child's physical abilities. For example, you can place the wardrobe, bookshelf, toy basket, table, and chair within his/her reach. Make sure that he arrangement and placement of the toys are not confusing.
- Use sensory play activities. Toys which have angular or rounded shapes, makes sounds, or flashcards are suitable for your toddlers and preschoolers.
- You can do homemade toys from your used materials at home. Filling plastic bottles with pebbles or beads, cutting triangles, squares, or circles from cardboard, a thread becoming a ball for your sport games, or coloring clothespins for a match-up activity..
- You can frequently engage in pretend play. You might take on different roles, impersonating the time he/she spends at school, at the market, on vacation, with friends or relatives. Change your tone, facial expressions and speech according to the role you play so you can sound more empathetic.
- Your child can join you while you are doing the housework. Giving them a bowl and a spoon while you are cooking, asking them to mix the ingredients you have prepared, or giving them the opportunity to set the table by handing them kitchenware are all good examples.