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Why having a playdate with your child matters

Updated: Jan 6

At Maggie & Rose we encourage and support parents in engaging in regular play sessions with their individual children to support a healthy attachment and recognise how their individual child is developing and learning. As we now enter our second lockdown, the opportunities for playdates for our children have been severely curtailed and with the shorter days, the allure of screens is getting harder to resist. Scheduling a playdate with your child won't just keep them amused after school, but will impart valuable skills for their learning journey ahead. Our incredible Head of Curriculum, Lucy Prew, shares more about the magical world of child's play.

"It’s time to play, you've created that haven in your home where your little one can entertain themselves with the books, toys and learning materials but do you ever wonder if you should also play alongside your child at home?

You may have read lots about why play is important, but did you know that playing alongside your child might be even more important? This week we thought we would give you a few tips on the benefits of your adult-child interplay as well as some ideas for a few five-minute activities to get you started.

Interplay inspires individual creativity, fun and focuses on individual positive strengths internally and externally by decreasing stress and anxiety, building relationships and promotes a relationship based upon reciprocal communication and cooperation.

Lucy's play guidance by age group

From birth to 12 months

The impact of music and repetitive rhyme provide an emotional comfort, early language recognition interplay supports this further by understanding that the reciprocal engagement in music activities provides a ‘nurtured attachment’ where children develop further.

Children’s favourite rhythmic movement activities

Row Row Row your boat

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star

There are many more short rhymes where you can engage with your child, but the key is to incorporate the trajectory movements. Here's a little good screen rhyme time with our very own Luke and Sara.

One to Two Years

At this stage your child's early language skills are developing as is their will to identify with things and people to provide a sense of self through belonging. At this stage of their development, storytelling is a big part of this journey, stories about people and communities that your child can identify with, but reciprocal engagement and repetition of the same story with adults is a core nurturing element for development. To extend this learning, we suggest active stories for reciprocal engagement such as finger puppets, noises, or latches. Whilst reading the stories engage in the small or large physical movements or noises aligned within the storybook

Baby Fish written by Hu-Hsuan Huang

Oi Frog and Friends by Kes Gray

Goodnight bear a magic torch by Joshua George

Three to Four Years

Our three-year olds are exploring their speaking and listening skills and starting to develop their understanding of their own imagination by exploring key vocabulary around them to develop their interests and further learning goals. A core element of this is socio-dramatic reciprocal role play situations, and how this can be done at home.

Home kitchen or Market settings using the materials at home and having a reciprocal conversation and engagement activity around playing at being the cook or the shop keeper.

You can also provide extension role play activities using dress up materials and making your home a rocket, airport, or fairy tale land.

Or using the play equipment you have at home such as a small world dolls house, farmyard or playmobile activities where you engage in different scenario play sessions and become the figure you are representing.

Four to Seven Years

Welcome to the imaginary world, where our imagination becomes our reality you can continue with the role play at home. However, children of this age have developed language skills and are cognitively understanding and engaging with the world around them wanting to explore this further.

Identifying with the natural real-world is a key part of co-operative play and adventures. Storytelling is taken to a different dimension here where we tell the stories of living things and engage in activities. Activities such as Worms, Butterflies, Bird and Ant gardens or bug hunts creating habitats in your home and reciprocal discussions around living creatures is key to supporting relationships and developing empathy with young children.

Lets get physical though playing physical games, going for walks in the woodland, swimming will keep the mind and body connected.

Lucy Prew is Head of Curriculum at Maggie & Rose. Don't forget we have lots of imaginative play, music and creative video classes available to encourage your child to use their imagination as well as help you all get crafty at home.

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