Play Time is Learning Time

You are an active participant in your child's early learning. One of the things you can do to make sure you give them the best possible start is to engage in play.

Children spend the vast majority of their waking hours at play. However, play is not simply a way for children to pass time. Instead, it is an important way for children to learn about their world while developing emotionally, socially, and intellectually.

There's no right or wrong way to play; what matters is that a child is given safe toys in safe places and is encouraged to experiment, express herself, learn on her own, control her environment, connect with other people, and make sense of her surroundings.

To engage a child in play:

  • Jump Right In. Playtime with a caregiver is invaluable to a child   whether you baby-talk or bounce a toddler on your knee.
  • Forget the Rules. Add to a child's play experiences by creating imaginative games and finding new ways to use his toys. Use blocks as flying cars or pretend to be a zoo animal. Encourage a child to make-believe and think creatively.
  • Take a Break. Although children often learn the most when they interact with others, solitary play gives a child time to process and understand everything that he has been doing.
  • Participate Enthusiastically. Encourage a child's imagination by becoming involved wholeheartedly and going along with her games.
  • Let a Child Guide His Play. Let a child pick the activity and decide how it is played. Pay attention to the child's mood and adapt the play accordingly.
  • Watch out for Over-stimulation. It's important to stop playing when your baby loses interest. He'll tell you when he's had enough by disengaging, turning his head, or starting to cry.

Tools for Families

Find helpful tips and activities in our Tools for Families section.

    Bookmark and Share