Image Credit: Pexels CC0 Licence
As a parent, you have a big job to do. Bringing up children isn’t just about making sure they are healthy; you also need to make sure they are happy and can grow up to become well-rounded citizens. Not a simple task!
Learning and playing should be central to raising your children. In fact, even as adults, play is a useful tool for learning and experimenting with different ideas and possibilities, which is why we still love cultural pursuits like theatre, dance and singing – all play in a more structured sense!
Enjoying a day out together is a great way to bond and make the most of cultural activities near you but you can’t do that all the time. So, you might need to be a little more imaginative for your days at home. Having the right tools for the job is always important and in this case, those tools just happen to be toys! So, here are a few that you should definitely have in your home from high-tech to low-tech.
There’s lots of talk about how good or bad using technology from a young age can be but, in all honesty, these debates don’t really do much to help. If we know anything, it’s that screens are now an inevitable part of life and your children are going to learn how to use them at some point whether you like it or not. Given that inescapable fact, it is worth considering introducing your kids to tech in your own way and in your own time.
One good option is to use an iPad together until you are ready to let your kids have a longer leash. There are lots of games and activities you can do that are fun and educational but you can also lie back and watch some cartoons together if you like.
An iPad is obviously quite an investment but there are plenty of useful features that you can take advantage of. For example, you can use an iPad as a second screen when you are working, enabling more creative work – there are instructions on setapp.com.
Soft toys are a big part of childhood and almost half of adults retain their favorite teddy bear. But we often underestimate how important cuddly toys can be. In fact, science can tell us just how valuable cuddly toys are for the emotional wellbeing of children as well as their ability to develop empathy, manage stress and build confidence.
Playing with cuddly toys together is a great chance to explore ideas in a safe space. Social games are really beneficial, for example, hosting a teddy bear’s tea party is a brilliant way to practice social skills. For younger, shy children, a teddy bear’s tea party is also a good way to build confidence in group situations as their teddy bear acts as a social crutch to help them communicate.
As your children grow up, their taste in cuddly toys might change with their interest. Some kids like collecting more intriguing soft toys based on wild animals like octopuses and platypuses. Some kids even like making their own soft toys – a great creative process that means they can learn a lot of new skills.
Building Blocks or Lego
There are lots of reasons to have a big bucket of Lego bricks in your house. Lego is brilliant for learning basic colors and shapes, experimenting with different building designs and imaginative play including mini-figures. Lego can become a dolls house or a maze or a restaurant in just a few small changes and there are endless options with just a few bricks.
For younger children, constructing Lego bricks is a brilliant way to develop fine motor skills and problem-solving. Playing with friends encourages learning to share and working together to create something awesome. Equally, Lego bricks can form an introduction to STEM subjects through a more creative approach.
If your toddler is still a bit young for Lego, playdough is the obvious choice. You can easily make it at home with just a few ingredients and some food coloring and though it might not be the most delicious meal in the world, it won’t do your kids any harm if they decide to have a nibble!
Playdough is great for kids who like to grab things and feel new textures. You can roll it out, cut it out, sculpt it, push it through a piping bag and combine the colors to create a cool effect. As toys go, playdough ticks a lot of boxes and can entertain a group of children of all ages for a couple of hours easily! You can also play a charades-like game where one person sculpts something and the rest of the group has to guess what it is.
Dressing up has always been a great way to literally step into the shoes of a different character. We all dress up from time to time, though we adults tend to be dressing for a particular occasion, not just for the sheer joy of it!
The perfect time to start building a dressing up box is just after Halloween when there are lots of items in the sale. But honestly, this should be a year-round pursuit for you and your kids! Stocking up with accessories such as your old hats, scarves and handbags is a great way to start. You might also consider adding in some of your old clothes and bits of fabric they can transform into something else.
Dressing up together is a lot of fun and if you are feeling bold, you can also add face paint into the mix. As your imaginary game progresses, don’t be afraid to make your character into anything you want – a fairy cowboy, an alien teacher – once you’ve got your accessories right, anything goes.
Having fun with your kids is just as important for their learning as more structured activities. Let your hair down and be prepared to explore new ideas with them.
**This is a contributed post. While Amber didn’t write it, she has approved it for you all 🙂