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Adult and baby playing

Come play with me

17 October 2022 | State Library of Queensland

Have you ever heard the saying, ‘play is the work of children’? Well, it really is! While it might look like a lot of fun, and often is, play is how children learn to use words, solve their own problems, be creative and practise new skills.  

It starts when your child is born. Your baby instinctively wants to play with you! Not just because it’s fun, but because their brains are wired to interact, and they thrive when we give them our attention, love and care in the early years. 

So, what does playing with your child look like? 
Play doesn't need to involve expensive toys. YOU are your child’s favourite toy so play can be as simple as tickling toes, singing songs or taking turns. You can help your child try new things and extend their learning by talking about what you’re doing together, asking questions, adding playful challenges, and providing lots of encouragement. With more and more practice they will be able to do those same things independently.

Creativity and experimentation

Children love making their own creations, drawing their own worlds, making up their own stories and inventing things. Learning to use tools can help your child problem solve, use their imagination, and express their ideas so show them how to use sticky tape, shovels, pegs and scissors. Notice and talk about signs and symbols – you could make a sign together for a shop, pretend to write a doctor’s note or write a card to a friend. Use this as an opportunity to scribble, draw, paint and have fun with language! 

Challenge the senses 

You can help your little one discover the world by talking about what they can see, feel or hear, and play provides lots of opportunities to explore our senses. Ask your child ‘How does it feel?’, ‘What does it look like?’, or ‘What sound does it make?’ and practise descriptive words like cold, fluffy, smooth, soft, hard, or rough. You'll be helping your child put words to their thoughts and build their vocabulary.  

Mastery and problem solving 

One of the greatest joys is to see your child grow and master new skills. When children solve problems through play, it shapes the structural design of their brain and potential for learning in later life. So, remember, the focus for your child is the PROCESS, which is where all the learning happens, and where they will discover that wonderful 'I did it' feeling. 

Building connection 

Importantly, your child learns through the love, attention and language you share with them so find moments every day to tickle tummies, clap hands, sing and play together – you’re helping your little one make millions of neural connections which gives them the solid foundation they need for a lifetime of growth and development. 

Discover other ways to play: 

Everyday play 
Small worlds are a big deal 
Get down and play 
Bath time play 
Ideas for outside play 
5 ways to talk, read, sing and play 
Loose parts, endless possibilities 


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