Play is the most important learning for a child! It is their window to understanding language, making friends, imagination, creativity, problem solving…the list is endless. Parents often want to know what to play, how to play? Do expensive toys in the market fulfill the needs above?
Before we start out with toys let us take a few steps back and know what you need…The first thing is that you need to build a lot of Personal Connect games with the child. There are no toys needed for such play and you can have a variety of them played in different ways. These games keep in mind your child’s sensory preference and they don’t cost a dime....:-)
Why no Toys first?
It is always easier for your child to focus on you when there are no toys - Remember this! . He/She likes to initiate and take turns in these games mentioned below because personal connect games are mostly movement based. All kids enjoy movement in some form and hence using that preference can provide countless opportunities for priceless interaction.
Here are a few games that should refresh memories of your childhood,
Peek-a-Boo: You can play it with the child using just your hands or using a material like a dupatta, towel, Blanket (vary the weight of the cloth depending on your child’s likes). You can vary the color of the cloth or Bed sheet depending on whether your child likes complete darkness or wants more light to see through. This game improves your child’s joint attention ( eye contact).
Spinning Around: This game can have various versions from spinning around in the air holding arms very fast, spinning on a revolving chair or spinning slowly while singing Ringa Ringa Rosies. If in the park then the merry go round is perfect for that fun interaction. Make sure that you are with the child so that he can send messages to you to start the game or continue the game. It can be by smiling, looking at your face, pointing or gestures and words.
Falling: You can make your child fall on to a mattress or beanbag. You can vary the heights and be the helper so that he is secure and safe at the same time. You can make him sit on your shoulder and then make him fall or spin or jump down.
Swinging: You can use the regular swing or make a swing out of a bed sheet or blanket (in which case you will need two people to hold the ends of the blanket).
Rocking: Rocking on the wooden horse, holding your hands and rocking on the floor, rocking on your lap, rocking on your legs/ toes.
Tickling: Your child might enjoy tickles on a certain body part like tummy vs. toes vs. palms etc. You might need to explore where is he more ticklish and then use that as a starting point for more fun n laughter. Pause just before you tickle him to build anticipation so that he can send a message to continue the game.
Massage: Your child might enjoy massage on a certain body part more than the other. Give firm/deep pressure depending on how much she likes it. You can create a game that ends with the massage.
Jumping: you can have him jump on the couch, mattress or bean bag. You can use the rhyme 5 little monkeys jumping on the bed to add rhythm to the game. You can make him jump by making him sit on your thighs while you are on a chair. Vary the speed of the jumps from slow to fast.
Sliding: You can use your legs just like a slide and make him slide down from your knees on to your tummy while you lie on your back. You can invent innovative games where he might want to slide down from your shoulders.
Throwing up in the air:You can throw your child up in the air and then catch him. You can add the rhyme “zoom zoom we are going to the moon” so that the interaction is longer and you get more turns.
Simple enough? Ask yourself how many of these have you played with your child lately......
- You should always be facing the child while playing these games.
- You should be at the child’s eye level as much as possible so that it is easy for your child to look at you.
- All these games are very repetitive and this repetition is very good for your child to anticipate and send messages to you.
- Remember that your child sends messages to you by looking, smiling, gestures and/ or words. It can be just one type or combination of forms. Anything is acceptable till you get a lot of turns going which are fun and enjoyable for the child.
- Make sure that he plays these games with both parents. Always personal connect games are easier for fathers to get involved in as they are rough and tumble play!
- There are no right or wrong ways to play these games. You can be creative and flexible depending on your child’s mood and energy.
Have FUN and be a Child with your Child ;)
"Every CHILD is a different kind of flower and all together make this world a BEAUTIFUL GARDEN" - Dr. Seuss