Last updated on Feb 23rd, 2021 at 01:05 pm

Play is a child’s occupation and all forms of play are learning. There’s nothing more constructive for a child to do than playing, says Barrett. “Play develops creativity, dexterity, sensory skills and imagination. Through play, children master their world and conquer their fears. It’s also a platform for children to work through emotional challenges and frustrations and to express their own point of view.”

The following games and activities, suggested by Occupational Therapist Lisa Barrett from the Child Integration Centre in Lonehill, will stimulate both your child’s physical and mental development:

Dance to music with your child
Listen to a variety of different music genres and remember to involve the dance actions for children’s songs like I’m a Little Tea Pot. This activity will develop your child’s motor planning skills and she’ll learn to imitate your body movements when she copies your dance moves. Sing along with the songs to stimulate your little one’s language development.
Bring in some musical instruments like drums, bells and shakers while you’re dancing to the music. Dancing and shaking an instrument at the same time is great for brain development. This action will also develop your child’s bilateral, movement and listening skills.

Make a hide-and-find-me bag
Use any fabric bag and ask your child to choose three familiar items with different textures. For example, something hard, something soft and something rough. Put the object in the bag. Ask your child to close his eyes and stick his hand in the bag to find the stone, soft toy or wooden block he put in the bag. This activity is great for developing your child’s tactile discrimination senses and his fine motor skills. For language stimulation, get your child to describe the object to you.

Subscribe to our Free Daily All4Women Newsletter to enter

Build a tent under a table
This is a great activity for pretend play. Put a big garden table on the grass and let the children cover it with tablecloths or pieces of fabric. Use different textures like corduroy, suede and crochet to stimulate your child’s sense of touch.
Build a path with cushions and chairs leading up to the tent so they have to climb over and under it to get into the tent. This obstacle course will develop their balance and teach them about how much space their body occupies and what their body is capable of doing.

Make your own spider web
Make a spider web over one of the doorways in your house by criss-crossing masking tape over the frame. This activity is perfect for younger children. Get your child to make cottonwool balls to throw at the spider web, or use pre-rolled cottonwool balls. The tearing and rolling will develop your child’s fine motor and bilateral skills, while the throwing action will develop hand-eye coordination.

How often should I play these games with my child?
Barrett says it’s important for children to spend undivided, individual time with mom and dad twice a week for at least 30 minutes. “Getting down to your child’s learning level and following his lead is very important for his development of self and self-esteem.”
If your child plays a game, but is doing it wrong, don’t correct him, simply follow his lead. By figuring things out for himself, he will learn valuable problem solving skills.