In my earlier article, I wrote about how Parents can have a lot of fun and interaction with their kids without any toys (!/content/26144). But if you want to start with toys remember that reasons for play, for a child and an adult are completely different. As an adult, we might have fixed ideas about playing with a toy based on our understanding of its function and past experiences with it. Like for example, rings are for stacking, blocks are for building etc.  We would want to do it fast and completion of the task based on fixed rules will give us a sense of achievement. We always want to win and winning always reinforces our interest in the game. 

But do you think it’s the same with your kids? Well, if your answer is Yes, Then you are mistaken. Toy play for a child is without any boundaries or rules. He might want to spin/ roll or line up the rings instead of stacking them. He might want to just pull out pieces of the pegboard puzzle and toss them around instead of arranging in the board. He might not want to play in a particular order and instead of ending the game he might want to move on to another toy or interest midway. Winning or losing is nowhere in the picture.

So then is this OK? There is no right or wrong way to play. Play is a child’s work and just like how we adults work all day, kids should play all day. It is important that your child has some dedicated playtime, especially in today’s gizmo age. When the child is playing with toys, he is exploring his environment, learning using his various senses of touch, sound and vision. He is starting to understand cause and effect and problem solve. He learns to imagine and be creative which are important skills for any form of learning. No computer or tab can provide this wholesome information that toy play can.

There are two common mistakes most parents make. While playing most of you tend to give "instructions" to your child on how to play or ask too many "questions." Both are big play stoppers. They make you sound like a "Playbully" rather than a "Playbuddy". It is very important for parents to try to watch and understand what their child is doing with the toy and join him in doing the same. Become a child when you are playing unbiased by your adult objectives. It is very easy to enjoy the toy play with your child if you do not have your own agenda to accomplish. Instead of trying to achieve different steps in play, why not introduce your child to new vocabulary and language connected to how he is playing with the toy. Also, your child starts enjoying the play more and wants you to join him and play with him for a longer time, and does not see you as a "Fun Police" who is taking them away from Playing. Please watch the following video to get some ideas on the different kinds of toys you can start with that most kids would love to explore.

Remember, Playing is your child’s favourite way of learning and he wants you to be a partner, cheerleader and a supportive coach.