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Playtime Tips for Toddlers

Who knew playtime was such an important job for your toddler? Here's how toddlers benefit from play and how you can help maximize the learning (and fun!).#Toddlers #ToddlerPlaytimeLearning #ParentingToddlers #MondayMorningMomsChildCare #MondayMorningMoms #ChildCareGermantownMD Photo credit: Getty Images

It may look like fun and games to you, but for toddlers, all that play is hard work. Why? As your toddler goes through his busy day zooming around the playground, whipping up a meal in his toy kitchen, or pouring water into a cup while he bathes, he’s solving problems, boosting his language skills, learning about people, discovering scientific and math principles (really!), and sharpening his creativity and imagination. Need more proof?

Here are a few examples of the lessons that lie in play:

  • When he’s sitting with his shape sorter, he’s figuring out sizes, shapes, and how to fit something into a container (“Nope, too big. Let me try the circle!”).

  • When he’s having a tea party with his stuffed animals, he’s engaging in imaginative play and practicing his turn-taking and sharing skills (“Have a cookie, Teddy!”).

  • When he’s going up and down the slide, he’s discovering how his body works (“Look at me climb!), the principle of gravity (“Watch how I slide down fast!”), and building his coordination (it takes a lot of muscle power to get up that ladder!).

So stash those flash cards — for learning, nothing can beat the developmental benefits of playing in Toddler Land.

And as your toddler’s number-one playmate, you can boost the learning in a variety of ways. How? Increase his verbal skills by asking him questions about what he’s drawing (“What a cool blue shape! Is that a truck?”).

Or challenge his imagination by asking him for details as he pretends to be a swashbuckling pirate (“Where did your ship land?”).

Above all, give him freedom: Supply the dress-up clothes, provide the art supplies, but let him control the action and give him free rein to make a mess.

(Within reason, of course! You can teach him the importance of cleaning up after he’s done.)

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