I am a play therapist. This means that I work with children, with some sort of delay, to help them overcome their delay and have success. Whether the delay is speech related, behavioral, a physical delay or a mental delay, I work with the children and share tips to incorporate learning into play. An important part of this is teaching their parents. Our son had play therapy when he was younger for a physical delay, along with OT and PT and I know the benefits of it! Incorporating learning into play was so important for us!
Here are a few ideas to incorporate learning into play at your house.
– Reading to your kids. This is the most obvious, but it encourages your kids to read on their own, as well as just looking at books. You don’t have to “read” the books. You can just look at the books, label the pictures and talk about what is happening.
– Read during meal times or bath times. This is one of my favorite times to read to our kids. We will sit at the table for a snack and I will grab a great book (the one that we read today, sticking with our Thomas & Friends theme, was Blue Mountain Mystery). This is truly a great time to read a book to your child. They are listening, quiet and focused.
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– Play at bath time. Bath time can be a great way to play with your child. You can teach them about body parts, cleanliness and more. To go beyond the obvious, I like to use bath time to talk about our letters and numbers, too. I will give our kids food coloring and shaving cream (before their bath) and they will make “paint” with it. I let them paint the numbers on the bath tub or write small words or letters for me.
When I was working with our Thomas & Friends theme, I had our kids draw a Train-Track on the bath tub sides and they drove their floating Thomas the Train toy along the tracks. This helped with hand-eye coordination, cause and effect (making colors) and more.
TO MAKE THIS BATH PAINT:
Just take cheap shaving cream (if your child has sensitive skin, you make want to opt for the sensitive skin shaving cream because it will probably get on them).
Fill up a muffin tin (or you could give each child their own plastic cup) with shaving cream.
Add one drop of food coloring to each cup or muffin-spot. (You could mix 2 drops of different colors to do a science lesson with them!)
Mix it up with a paint-brush (kid-size tiny one) and let them paint! It is fun & washes away.
TIP- rinse it off right after bath-time. You don’t want to risk having it stain your bath tub!
5- Talk about what they are doing- REPEAT THEIR ACTIONS. If your child is driving a train on the tracks, talk about it. “Wow, Thomas is really driving fast! Where is he going? Oh- to the store! What is he going to buy at the store?” This is really important. It tells your child “Mom/Dad/Grandma… is really watching what I am doing. They are really paying attention to me right now!”