There are so many things people take for granted until they are faced with the challenge of making those things happen. For example, have you ever stopped to think about the simple act of children playing? How do they know HOW to play? What makes children roll a toy car or turn it upside down and push it?
It is important children learn how to play with toys so they can play with other children. The first step of socialization is teaching proper play. How do you teach proper play? Is playing something that can be taught and learned? Fortunately, it is. Sometimes children need a little extra help playing properly and parents or teachers can help.
The first thing you have to do is show the child HOW to play with different toys. In order to show the child how to play, you will be “playing” with the toys. If your child is receptive to you and will watch you, learning to play with toys correctly will be easy. However, if your child does not want to watch you or maybe he or she is autistic and cannot watch you, teaching play will take patience and time.
One of the best ways to engage with your child is to imitate them. Do whatever the child is doing. If the child is walking in circles and talking to him or herself, walk in circles and talk to yourself. It may take a few minutes, but your child will realize you are doing what he or she is doing and will watch you as they change what they are doing.
It’s important to continue imitating the child, especially when he or she realizes what you are doing. When the child stops doing what they are doing and looks at you in anticipation, that means it is time for you to play with toys properly. Pick up any toy you think your child might like such as a bright color or noisy object. Start playing with it. Play with it on the floor, if it is a vehicle drive it up the furniture, or even make a road or path for it to travel on. Your child may go back to doing something else, but chances are good he or she still saw what you are doing.
While your child is sitting playing by himself or herself, you may want to sit near your child and play with toys correctly. Your child will learn through imitation and will be watching even when you think he or she is not paying attention.
Some children have difficulty learning to play, especially when they do not see anyone else playing with toys. Parents are the first teachers. They need to be prepared to be on the child’s level. If you only have one child and the child does not go to daycare or playtime with other children, you may want to play with your child more for him or her to learn play and socialization.