When it comes to pretend play, children are perfectly happy to mix toys made to different scales - size just isn't important to them! Your toddler might hold a tea party for a few dolls and teddies. The participants may vary in size from very small to really large, but your toddler will be oblivious to the variation. They might have a small, dinky china tea set, complimented by plastic or wooden cookies and slices of cake that dwarf the tea pot - but size doesn't matter. They may sit around a blanket on the floor offering enough room for the whole family to enjoy a picnic round, but scale is really of no consequence!
During pretend play, children will happily play with lots of different toys, all made to different scales, but they are as contented as can be! Indeed, they'll even happily mix toys from different paradigms, such as dinosaurs on a farm, a shop that sells anything under the sun, or serve pizza for afternoon tea!
The important point is that children partake in pretend play. As they play with objects and act out little scenarios either on their own, with siblings or friends or with you, they are practicing all sorts of different actions which help them develop their motor skills, they will practice language as they talk through each scene, and learn how objects made from different materials act and how they can be handled.
Children love playing games: it's fun, it's easy and it's a great way of learning without even knowing it!
Early on, games like peek-a-boo and pat-a-cake and other nursery rhymes form the basis of children's games. This is how the idea of games actually starts. The little ones laugh and smile and begin to understand cause and effect: ie. each time teddy pops out from behind the cushion, it will make them jump and they will laugh! It sounds simple, but it's an early form of game-playing.
They will then progress to all sorts of other games: easy box games, then number, colour and letter games and eventually board games. At each stage they are learning different things and experiencing different ideas. The notion of a winner and loser; the notion of practising at something to get better; the idea that you need to make an effort and try hard at something to then enjoy the feeling of doing well etc.
What are the benefits of playing games? Does it really help in any way other than passing the time?
With the football World Cup underway, football fever has gripped the nation - no doubt dad's are looking at their baby and toddler sons, wondering whether they could represent their country in the 2030 World Cup final?! Well, it might require a bit of imagination, but anything is possible!
Like any sport, football offers family fun - yes, perhaps only the children are on the pitch, but the family can support the team, get to know all the players and help with the logistics of running a young football club. Football offers a great opportunity for regular exercise and the game will instill physical and social skills in your children.
Children won't be able to join a local football club until they are 5 or 6, although there are some organisations that start introducing children to sport skills from the age of 3 upwards. Initially they'll be working with balls and running around obstacles to help practice their dexterity. Just as a toddler is beginning to learn how to control their body, they can begin to practice those skills that will help them on a sports field in later life.
There's an enormous leap from local football team to world cup qualifier, but starting early and developing good motor skills early on will certainly give your little ones a head start over many other aspiring players out there!
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