Tips to Make the Most of Playtime

(StatePoint) With the right games, toys and activities on-hand, playtime can pull double duty, being an opportunity both to have fun and help kids reach important milestones.

To build the following skills, consider incorporating the following ideas into your child’s playtime:

• Cognitive Skills: Long before kids set foot in a classroom, they can start to develop the cognitive skills they’ll need to succeed in school and life by playing board games and card games. From building one’s memory to learning how to count, perform basic arithmetic, strategize and follow rules, there are many types of cognitive skills needed to play and master most games, and kids won’t even realize how much they’re learning as they go.  

• Emotional Skills: Innovative tech toys are helping kids learn to express their emotions in healthy ways. For example, the new Mix & Match-a-Saurus from VTech comes with three emotion tiles (happy, angry, sleepy), three music tiles (hip-hop, marching, ballet) and three character tiles (dinosaur, robot, monster). Children can create 27 different combinations, such as happy hip-hop dino or angry marching monster.  Experimenting with the emotion tiles helps kids build social and emotional skills. For example, angry dino may stomp around or say, “Let’s practice calming down,” helping kids learn that there are many ways to express feelings.

• Speech and Language Skills: Make down-time more fun and more productive with games that promote speech and language skills. Whether you’re in the waiting room of the pediatrician’s office or on a long car ride, conversation games like “20 Questions” and “I Spy” teach important lessons like taking turns, while helping kids expand their vocabularies and capacity for creativity.

• Motor Skills: Toys that require both fine and gross motor skills to operate can offer multifaceted benefits to kids at a critical time in their development. For example, with a new nautical-themed playset called the Treasure Seekers Pirate Ship, kids can turn the sails, spin the steering wheel or load the cannon to strengthen fine-motor skills, and roll the ship along using the pull cord to build gross motor skills. When set to explore mode, kids can also discover colors and numbers.

Make the most of playtime. Seek out games and activities designed to help children build and hone important skills.

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