Learn By Playing
By Carol HardingPlay is a child's "work" because it accomplishes so many developmental tasks. When children play they learn about themselves and the world around them - how to relate to others and how to communicate.
A baby's playtime is equally important for parents. Playtime allows a parent and baby to share glee, and draws a parent into a baby's magical world. Tickle-tickle, peek-a-boo, and those made up interactive games are not only fun, but also bond baby and parent. The smiles and giggles that emerge make the simplest activities rewarding.
Parents appear to be genetically "wired up" to enjoy being with babies. First movements, burps, and yawns provide parents with lifelong memories. A baby's first sounds teach parents to talk in a special language (called "motherese") that helps develop language skills. It is during playtime that parents and babies come to know each other and learn to communicate.
Kicking, reaching, touching, gumming, wiggling, and babbling are all ways that infants and toddlers experiment with body sensations and motor movements. Swiss Professor Jean Piaget watched his own children and others engage in this kind of "sensorimotor" play as he formulated his theory of how humans develop knowledge. Babies' play, he believed, was the foundation for all later learning. To him, babies were like small scientists who experiment with their bodies and the world around them as they invent knowledge.
Although healthy babies tend to play whenever and wherever they can, there are some ways that parents can help turn ordinary moments into fun learning opportunities.