The role of play in early childhood development
First Time Mum's Chat podcast


118: The Exciting Role of Play in Early Childhood Development

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Disclaimer – This podcast is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. Please contact a medical practitioner if you are concerned and have any medical issue.

Having worked as a childcare educator for many years since the 1980’s, I’ve spent many years focusing on the role of play in early childhood development. I have also gained plenty of experience over the years planning activities for babies, infants and toddlers. Not surprisingly, I’ve seen many changes in the role of play in early childhood development, in how we do things and to the overall family unit.

I was fortunate enough to have been brought up on a farm in the countryside of rural Scotland with tons of space and open fields to explore and all the exciting goings on. This encouraged me to build many wonderful memories from exploring and learning new things. It also no doubt helped me make a connection with nature, since it was on my doorstep and to keeping things simple! How lucky I was to have been a child of the 1960’s – 1970’s before the advent of devices such as computers and smartphones.

I’ve become very concerned with how these technologies have impacted infant development in our modern, fast-paced world and my approach has always been to encourage the children in my care to develop their own imagination and come up with their own activities. This is becoming increasingly harder as computers and smartphones take away the abilities of children to occupy themselves as they become accustomed to having everything ready to go for them.

Research in neuroscience suggests that there’s nothing that lights up the brain quite like play. I feel very strongly about the role of play in early childhood development and in this episode you’ll hear me share ideas on how you can encourage your child to play in a natural way free of technology. I’ve also included an excerpt from an interview I did with Melissa Lowry, the principal of a kindergarten through 8th grade school located in the US. Melissa has similar concerns to me and during our discussion, she shared some interesting recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics relating to technology access for children aged 0 – 2 years which I’ve included in this episode.

You’ll also hear part of an interview I did with Sarah Bolitho, a therapeutic play practitioner, where she encourages parents to let their children play and not take the lead or be too controlling of them. Sarah also talks about pretend play and how to use it to build the parent-child relationship in the episode.

I also talk about the role of play in early childhood development and specifically the importance of letting your child develop their own play activities whilst you are a passive observer.

Taking time out of your day to watch your child play and find their way in this world as an observer is often a hard thing to do for many parents. Not surprisingly, there is often a tendency to be overly protective and it does take mental effort to relax with this. I suggest taking time to watch whatever they are doing, whether it be learning to crawl, taking those first steps or simply exploring your home.

Links to the Two Episodes Mentioned

During the episode I quoted excerpts from the following two First Time Mum’s Chat episodes. Please click on the links below to visit these episode pages and to listen to the episodes.

  1. The Impacts of Technology on Infant Development – with Melissa Lowry.
  2. The Importance of Play in Early Childhood – with Sarah Bolitho.

Read Episode Transcript Here

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