34-35 Months

The Oxford dictionary describes the word PLAY as follows: To engage in activity for enjoyment and recreation rather than a serious or practical purpose. Furthermore, a list of synonyms for the word PLAY is given that includes the following: amuse, entertain, enjoy, have a good time, relax, rest, be at leisure, divert, fun.

I was reading through this list, thinking that I surely need more playtime in my day … it seems like play is the cure for stress. Maybe we as adults are so caught up in the hustle and bustle of everyday life that we have forgotten how to play and have fun.

Play is the single most important job a child has and the basis where all learning takes place. Play provides a calming, inviting and fun environment where children can explore, experiment, try out and rehearse their experiences. If a child does not play, the red warning lights and loud sirens should send a warning that the child is not getting enough opportunity for learning.

Be mindful that toddlers need plenty of outdoor playtime. Play will also get your child moving, and physical input is extremely important for proper muscle tone and development. Learning is optimised when incorporating all of your toddler’s senses, and what better place to tickle the senses than utilising nature as your classroom.

When Mia plays outside, I talk to her about what she is touching, smelling, hearing and seeing. I observe what she is interested in and then I use that to expand her vocabulary, teach her new concepts and show her the function or meaning of whatever she is playing with. I allow her to lead the game and I consciously look for opportunities to deposit valuable lessons. It is important to play with your child, as it maximises your toddler’s learning experience. Time for playing alone is also important to create independence; therefore, keep a good balance.

MommaMia Tip: Play is as much part of your child’s day as breathing, eating and sleeping. Be mindful not to neglect this important aspect of your toddler’s being.

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