Summer holidays are about to begin and mothers are already dreading the long period with no specific timetable for children. Hence this is the time to discover the Power of Play with your child. It is very important to know what exactly play is before we can understand the power and impact of play on early childhood development. John Dewey, an American philosopher and educationist, believed that human beings learnt through a ‘hands-on’ approach. This means that children must interact with their environment in order to adapt and learn. That is how they gain the cognitive, physical, emotional and social skills necessary to succeed in their adult lives. Play helps build self-worth by giving a child a sense of his or her own abilities. Because it’s fun, children often become very absorbed in what they are doing. In turn, this helps them develop the ability to concentrate. As babies develop and grow, so does their play. It’s the way they learn about their world – testing hypotheses about how things work, exploring their physical abilities and building their understanding of how to get along with other people. Learning through play is not about children wondering aimlessly around a room dumping baskets and throwing blocks. Instead, it takes a carefully prepared environment that invites young children to explore, examine, question, predict, test, investigate, trial, error, and manipulate. Here are some tips that come recommended by a panel of renowned educationists: 1. Turn off technology While technology can be a wonderful compliment to education, screen time should be limited. Other than too much radiation and eye strain, the excessive use of digital gadgets have a negative effect on children’s cognitive development. 2. Let the children be bored If children are let to play by themselves, they learn to self-regulate and are free to explore. Boredom will help develop their creativity. 3. Play should be child-directed When engaging in their play, parents should follow their lead. 4. Imitate, elaborate and ask questions based on what your child is doing Try and just add a little more vocabulary or description to your child’s play. 5. Introduce materials, such as paint or play dough that allow for their manipulation Different textures and colors add interest and provoke curiosity. 6. Incorporate common household items to add a new dimension to their play Tongs to pick up small items, oven mitts can be a makeshift puppet, or dry pasta can act as wonderful sources of entertainment! 7. Get outside Outdoor play is also very essential for childhood development, as they learn cause and effect, appreciate nature and develop coordination. 8. Give your child opportunities to play with other children They learn to cooperate, negotiate, solve problems, develop greater empathy and be kind. 9. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box Jumping in rain puddles, a quickly jotted down list of scavenger hunt items and collecting natural items for painting can make a typical walk to the park more exciting. Try out some of these activities with your child at home: * Textures Children are sensory learners who love to touch, smell, and taste to understand the world around them. Use a dark marker to trace letters of the alphabet and/or numbers onto poster paper; then have your little one decorate the letters with textured items such as sandpaper, beans, cotton balls, wrappers and pipe cleaners. * Measuring Up Using everyday items, teach your child to measure. Although a ruler is the most common measuring tool, experiment with months, seasons, or time of year to make the learning process interesting. In the fall, have your child lie down on the grass and then line up apples next to her to measure how many “apples tall” she is at certain ages. Or determine how many “Legos tall” the couch is or how many “wooden blocks wide” the refrigerator is in your home. * Label Your Household Pick just one or two items to label in your house, such as the refrigerator, windows and chairs, and rotate the labeled objects every few months. Make labels the same size and use a basic font so children can identify them easily. Type, print, and cut out individual words; then use blue painter’s tape to adhere them to objects. Labeling allows children to know that everything has a set of common symbols to be written down and identified. * Introduce Organization Nurture your child’s helpful spirit by promoting organization in your home. Tie in the ‘Label Your Household’ activity by keeping toys, clothes, dishes and household items in specific places. As you put things in their labeled bins and drawers, ask children where certain items belong (“Where do your toys go?, Where should your shoes be stored?”) or place forks in a sock drawer or a toy in the refrigerator and challenge your little onehttps://www.parents.com/toddlers-preschoolers/ to fix your “mistakes”. * Scavenger Hunt Children are natural investigators and they love to explore. Scavenger hunts can be created beforehand or invented on the spot. At the supermarket, search for foods that are one specific color (such as purple) or look for objects of one shape (such as a circle) around the house. Published in Daily Times, June 8th 2018.