Joanne Gallacher
By Joanne Gallacher

Play tips for Children

Young children learning

young children learningExperts advise that the best toys to purhcase are ones that encourage learning about the environment we live in. However, many items end up piled high in a corner with many parents not knowing which toys to fish out. Pre-school teacher Antoinette Scandling told us that toys are a great tool for stimuation.

She said: “From the beginning toys are important, they help you keep things going during the day, sometimes you can get down and it just gives you a break. Your baby is learning from the day it is born,”

However, the mother of a two-year-old son said you do need to be careful not to over stimulate your baby and said: “You can overload them with information. You have to be very careful about how many toys you are putting out. For young babies you will do one quick short activity and a calm activity as well. If they look away or start to niggle you know that’s enough and you need to stop.”

Antoinette said you have to think differently again when it comes to buying for a toddler and went on to say: “Older babies are really, really busy. They want to engage and learn all the time. Anything that will stimulate their senses so even cooking is one of the best things. They can smell, touch and talk to you. There are loads of things you can make and do at home.”

Antoinette encourages structure in her son’s daily routine by laying out his room or playspace as she would a classroom.

She said It helps him feel organised and uses the acronym SPACE.

This is how she sets up the play area.

S - Lay out social skills toys and soft play toys. It’s a relaxing soft play area. My son loves to go there.

P - Physical. Maybe a little trampoline. Anything that’s going to get them moving.

A - Aesthetics, anything creative. Musical instruments, fingerpaints, play with pasta or plasticine.

C - Cognitive Development. This area is for puzzles, games, cause-and-effect toys i.e. push this button and something will happen. For older babies simple construction

E - Emotional. Any toys that mirror their home environment. You could have dress up items in this space.

Antoinette added: “In every room I try to distinguish the function. In the kitchen I have toys that make a noise and bath toys in the bathroom. In his room he has soft toys. I limit the amount of toys I put out and change them once a week. If there’s an attachment to a certain toy that’s out all of the time.”

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