Parents have had a rough year. National lockdown left moms and dads without the support of childcare or play schools, leaving parents to find ways to keep their toddlers stimulated and learning. Now with holidays fast approaching and localised lockdown on the cards for a number of regions throughout the country, families are once again advised to practice more rigorous physical distancing. We’ll be on the look-out for great ideas to keep our children engaged that enable us to also relax and have some fun, especially when it comes to our busy toddlers.
Early Childhood Development innovator, Meg Faure, who is a best-selling author and co-founder of Play Sense, reminds us parents that play is the intense work that toddlers do. “It’s through their daily play that they are moving forward to tick those developmental milestones such as the gross and fine motor skills, and attaining language, while also making progress in developing vital ‘super sensory’ capacities such as creativity and imagination, problem-solving, emotional intelligence and collaboration, amongst others,” she says.
Activities and games that ignite these ‘super senses’ are deeply absorbing for 2 to 4-year olds, and Meg recommends four fun, money-free ways that parents can keep their little ones not just occupied over the holidays, but actively developing and learning in the best ways:
- Get outdoors into nature – the summer holiday is the ideal time for being outdoors and physically active every day. Playing in gardens, walking on beaches, in mountains and forests, at your child’s comfortable pace, allows plenty of stimulating time to stop, look, discover and explore
- Build and construct activities – from playing with blocks to putting up tents and creating forts, these sorts of projects engage little ones in solving problems and collaborating in a team or partnership
- Make believe games – a box of pretend play items such as feeding bottles, spoons and sippy cups, as well as clothing items such as hats and socks or old handbags, phones and glasses can be a treasure trove that enables your child to test out their understanding of roles, interactions and life through play
- Join the four-week online Play Sense Playcation – access a wide range of easy-to-use, fun activities across four different themes. Registration is free and the program, which runs from 10 December 2020 to 11 January 2021, has been developed by occupational therapists to nurture essential skills in 2 to 4-year olds. You’ll be part of a holiday community with opportunities to upload videos of your activities to the website and chances to win prizes
Head of Curriculum and co-founder of Play Sense, Lara Schoenfeld, says: “We know parents have had a hard year trying to work and keep their little ones busy, this is a way to spend quality time with your toddler where all the ideas and planning is done for you. Children learn best through play and our Playcation gives moms and dads the reassurance that while it’s lots of fun, it’s also stimulating your little one’s development. We’re excited to offer this Playcation as much needed support for parents at the end of a challenging year.”
Interested parents are invited to sign up for the Playcation here: www.playsense.org/playcation Registration is free and closes on 22 December.
Play Sense micro-playschools are hosted in a family homes across the country. Small groups of up to 6 children are guided by a teacher certified to teach the comprehensive 11-month play-based program. The foundation learning program supports school readiness.
Play Sense uses a combination of sensory, outdoor, gross motor and imaginary play as a powerful way to teach young children emotional regulation, social skills and ‘super senses’ or core capacities. Research has proven that developing these core capacities is all-important to unlocking personal fulfilment and lifelong success. Play Sense’s program is designed to develop 5 key super senses:
- Creativity or imagination is an essential skill for a highly automated future. When children are in the optimal environment to refine their inherent creativity, they are cultivating one of the most sought-after skills in a complex digital world.
- Problem solving is the ability to manage and prioritise complexities to come to a satisfactory resolution. Play Sense uses carefully designed play scenarios to encourage problem solving in toddlers.
- Collaboration or the ability to engage with others to complete a task is a skill that children will use throughout their learning journey all the way to the workplace.
- Executive function is essentially the CEO of the brain and is the ability to plan, reason, apply judgement and achieve a goal. Children between the ages of 2 and 4 are in the most exciting stage of human development and it is the ideal time to develop their capacity for executive function.
- Self-regulation. Of all the essential skills children need to thrive in the future, self-regulation is the most important. The ability to recognise emotions and behaviour, in themselves and others, gives those who possess it a distinct advantage when it comes to lifelong success.