It won’t come as a surprise that here at Little Tikes we believe in BIG PLAY!
We all know that playtime is important (no matter how grown-up we get!) and it’s particularly important for little ones, especially in the early years. Being able to play and have fun is vital for kids to develop into happy well-rounded grown-ups, just like Mummy and Daddy.
All babies are individuals right from the very start but we wanted to help you recognise key play and learning stages and show you how to encourage different types of play. Whilst we consider ourselves to be playtime connoisseurs, we’ve also been working with child play expert and mum of two Dr Maggie Redshaw, to help us iron out four of the most common Play Personalities.
All children are unique, but it’s likely that they’ll all spend some time as a ‘Little Learner’, ‘Little Explorer/Builders’, ‘Little Mover’ or ‘Little Grown up’ …or possibly all at the same time!
The Four Play Personalities
First things first – let’s start with one of the youngest – Little Learners!
Young babies are fantastic at learning; everyday they are doing something new. Little Learners in particular will react to everything you show them and are excited by any new shapes and textures.
Whether they manage to get hold of your car keys, phone or a new toy, they can’t wait to get stuck into everything and will learn from everything you show them.
Now if your little one is constantly focused on physical skills like learning to crawl, walk, and run, then they’re probably a Little Mover at the moment.
Some babies prefer to be on the move – which means that Mum and Dad have to be too! Achieving the physical skills associated with becoming upright, standing and beginning to walk are their main goals and they’ll practice these endlessly.
Little Movers love to do things for themselves – so it’s a good idea to be on hand to support their new-found independence (and to keep an eye on them), but don’t be surprised if they insist they can do it all on their own!
Does your little one look at a new toy and then immediately start taking it apart, followed by hours of painstakingly putting it back together again?
Some toddlers are Little Builders, great at concentrating and manipulating surprisingly complicated toys! At this stage they’ve started to learn how things work, from tipping out a digger load to controlling a toy car’s movement, it’s all about understanding. Playing like this is also great for the social aspect of playtime.
Very often little builders often become little explorers and vice versa, excited to learn about different materials. Their choice for play may involve water, sand, mud, or even their dinner!
If your little one can often be found playing dress up, or copying you and their older siblings, they’re probably trying out being a Little Grown-up at the moment.
Just like adults, some children are more socially orientated than others and want to practice everything they see you do! Little Grown-ups will love to have tea parties, cook pretend food, and drive their toy cars.
Swapping roles for a while and trying out being a grown-up is something that lots of children really enjoy and it’s the perfect way for them to learn about empathy and what it might be like to be someone else.
As a parent, remember it’s important to join in – your imagination can lead their imagination and you’re bound to have a lot of fun together too!