Children today seem to have fewer and fewer opportunities for good old-fashioned play, the type that's unstructured, unplugged, and very messy. Discover why these types of activities are good for your child.
Spark his/her five senses
Start exploring the benefits of messy play at a local park or beach. Allow your child to pick fresh berries, feel goopy mud between bare toes, listen to the sounds of falling leaves – these sensory experiences help your child understand his world better than any book.
Grow a future scientist
When you're ready to bring the dirt closer to home, let your little one roam free in the yard. Toys like water tables encourage small messes, but these may limit your child's play. Instead, carve out a spot in your yard where she can dig, roll, climb, and crawl. Add a sandbox to her backyard play pen so she can build sculptures and castles. Offer her some shovels or water buckets — but leave the rest to her imagination.
Measure and mix to learn math
When you cook with your child, flour will cover the floor, batter will spill into that unreachable crevice next to the stove, and eggs will splatter on the ground. So why do it? Because, here you can show your budding chef that math is important. Even a toddler can help with simple baking projects, so explain small (teaspoon) and large (cup). A preschooler can get an introduction to basic addition (1Tbsp + 1Tbsp= 2Tbsps), and older kids can explore fractions and division.
Giving a young child more control at the dinner table is a sure way to end up with a ruined carpet and stained clothes. The payoff? A confident, self-sufficient child.
As soon as she starts solids, offer your munchkin a spoon (even if you have to help get the food in her mouth). Around her first birthday, she can begin picking up bits of food with her fingers. At age 3, let her try a fork, and by preschool-time, show her how to pour her own drink from a pitcher. These simple tasks build better muscle control and spatial awareness, skills that will allow her to do other things on her own.
We hope you try out these activities at home as much as we encourage them here at the Nursery.