Corridor Gazette Article 12 on Early Childhood Development January 2018

Over the months we have stressed the importance of play for children. Not only is play very important for children’s happiness, wellbeing and development, play is the natural way children learn. In fact, play IS children’s work! It’s the way they learn to understand how the world and the people around them function. It sparks imagination, creativity, problem solving, negotiating relationships and a huge variety of intellectual and other skills – in fact everything they need to know about life and how to live in the world!

Play is also a child’s right and we as parents and adults have a very important responsibility to make sure that children have time, opportunity and materials to play. Does that mean we have to provide expensive toys? NO! With a little imagination, almost anything can become a toy for a young child – just make sure it’s safe, not long and sharp, not poisonous and can’t be swallowed. Some of the most effective toys are everyday household objects!

Take the cardboard box. Smaller boxes can be stacked to make towers; put one inside the other; filled with pebbles or used to create something. Believe it or not – all these activities are the beginnings of science and maths – balance, symmetry, gravity, volume, capacity, weight, size, comparison, making predictions and learning through trial and error!

If you take a bigger box such as an apple box – it can become a car, a stove, a table, a cupboard or a doll’s cot. Put 4 or 5 apple boxes in a row and you have a bus or train; arrange them in a square and you have a house; stack them one on top of the other and you have a tower. A toddler just learning to walk can push a box along or, if you attach a piece of string, pull it behind him – learning about push and pull – the beginnings of physics! Add a few props like old clothes for dressing up, some plastic cups for tea, rag dolls or a teddy, a small piece of wood for a cell phone and wonderful imaginative play will take place where children explore the adult world through their own understanding. They will love it if you join in and enter their make believe world.

The kitchen is a great source of play for a toddler. Just make sure that cleaning materials are stored out of sight and reach; that pot handles are turned away and nothing hot can spill; that knives and sharp objects are out of reach and your kitchen is safe. Then your little one will find there are cupboards to open and close; plastic utensils to pull out, investigate, stack or put things into; pots and pans make wonderful drums; potatoes, squash, onions and butternut can be sorted, counted or put into patterns. Squash and oranges make wonderful balls to roll and chase. Your 3 to 5 year old child will love to feel they’re helping mum by counting out 1 potato each for supper, laying the table, mixing something, sweeping or helping with washing up. Mum, just grit your teeth and put up with the mess in the interests of all the learning taking place in your little one’s brain!

Above all – have fun!

Learn more about what you can do to change your child’s future by listening weekly to LOVE, PLAY TALK, the radio programme on Nkomazi FM aired EVERY Thursday from 11 to 11.30am and brought to you by Ilifa Labantwana and RCL FOODS. Each week Nkomazi FM hosts a guest speaker to deal with a different topic to support you, the parent of a young child, give your child the best start in life. The LOVE, PLAY, TALK radio programme is part of the RCL FOODS sponsored LEAVE NO YOUNG CHILD BEHIND early childhood development initiative in Nkomazi Wards 16 and 19 that aims to ensure every young child in these wards has access to improved quality of essential services so that they get the very best start in life. And you, the parent, have a critically important role to play!

Get more information from the Nkomazi FM website or the Ilifa Labantwana website . Do listen every week and give your little one the best start in life!


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