All work and no play makes not only Jack but everybody dull and grey, And as they say "Play is the highest form or research " and its 100% true as babies learn through their toys and through sensory play, so anything that has texture, sound, smell or even balance help the child stimulate all their senses.
When I say toys it doesn’t have to be a store bought one, it can be a cardboard box or your kitchen utensils as well.
I try to incorporate sensory activities and structured play into one when it comes to Boo.
A toddler needs a balance of both structured as well as unstructured play as part of their routine, so that it helps develop their motor skills as well as it gives enough time for us parents to finish our chores or atleast have some time to ourselves so it’s a win-win.
In this blog I have jotted down the different types of structured and unstructured activities that you can plan for your baby and their benefits.
Structured play and its benefits:
Structured play is more like playing with a purpose like teaching a child to read flash/activity cards, building blocks, solving puzzles etc.
As Boo is just a year old, we concentrate more on activities like putting lid on a box, uncapping or capping a bottle, these are important milestones and should be encouraged. Shape sorter are a good example of structured play as it helps the child to reorganize different shapes, though initially the child may just play around and not understand how to sort based on the shape but eventually they will.
Benefits of structured play:
- Following directions
- Improving social skills
- Improves concentration
- Self discipline
- Building team spirit
- Ability to strategize
Unstructured play is to play without a purpose of a definite plan, Unstructured play is as important as structured play as it helps the child to think beyond a given task.
In our house, we are more into unstructured play than the structured ones as according to me its very important for Boo to develop imagination and think out of the box at this age before the regular and mundane, though process gets hardwired.
Boo plays with almost all of the kitchen utensils and sometimes it becomes a megaphone, sometimes a hat and we like the noise they make when it hits the ground :) same is with all the cardboard boxes that we get in our mail.
Benefits of unstructured play:
- It improves creativity
- Improves decision making skills
- Becomes imaginative
- Develops emotional and cognitive ability
- Motivates the child to create new games on their own
- Building self esteem.
Points to remember :
- Too much of structured play and the pressure to excel and get them right can cause anxiety and self doubt.
- Over Scheduling can lead to depression when children grow up.
I personally do not think there are any cons to unstructured play as I would prefer my child to be creative and imaginative.
Toys these days are super expensive, especially these days when more and more parents prefer buying non toxic ones, but they don’t always have to be always a store bought one. You can make your own toys and encourage children to make as well.
- Clay dough, these are good to fuel a child’s imagination.
- Homemade Slime (there plenty of videos available online showing how to make them).
- Upcycle the old cardboard boxes and make toys out of them.
- Paint pebbles or rock, this can be a fun family activity.
Structured or unstructured, point is the child should enjoy the process and so should the parent.
"Playtime is precious, play builds brain pathways for thinking,creativity, flexibility, empathy and many other lifelong skills." - Heather Shumaker
Happy children make happy homes.
Also read: 5 Fun Games To Teach Your Child!
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