The Right Play Activities for Your Child

KidsHealth offers online parenting resource on age-appropriate playtime.

The child health care website has launched a new online resource, The Play & Learn Center. The site gives parents ways to use children’s playtime to foster physical and emotional growth.

Playtime is a powerful tool in raising an active and imaginative child. But not all play is equally beneficial. As children age, physicians say, they need to engage in play that develops progressively different skill sets. The Play & Learn Center helps parents sort out what types of play are best to encourage during the infant, toddler and school-age years, and how to engage in them safely.

For newborns, the site provides examples of playtime techniques that encourage motor skills development, as well as help recognizing problems with your baby’s physical development.

For toddlers, age-appropriate games can teach valuable interpersonal skills such as imitation, waiting turns, sharing and following directions. The site also provides ways to recognize if an activity is making your toddler anxious.

If your child is slightly older, the site says, group games are more age-appropriate because they focus on aspects of individual identity — self-regard, self-expression, and your child’s place in a peer group. As preschoolers move away from the fantastical ideas that they had as babies, the challenge is how to use that transition to encourage an active lifestyle and an imaginative mind.

Children’s interests change along with their needs. The Play & Learn Center offers help in determining when to abandon a once-cherished activity and how to make new types of play enjoyable.

Early, active play lowers a child’s risk of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease, according to research. Psychological benefits range from increased curiosity to a better tolerance for frustration.

The Play & Learn Center was developed in partnership with the National Association of Children’s Hospitals and Related Institutions (NACHRI). All of the site’s children’s health recommendations have been reviewed by KidsHealth pediatricians.

Holiday shoppers will also find safe-toy recommendations at The Play & Learn Center for toddlers and preschoolers and for school-age children.

Andrew Scurria is an editorial intern at MetroKids.

Categories: FYI, Play