“Using Play to Increase Attention” is part of a year-long blog hop called Functional Skills for Kids. Each month, I will be working with other pediatric OTs and PTs to post on different developmental topics that impact functional skills for kids. I’m so honored to be working with some amazing pediatric bloggers to bring you a well-rounded blog hop that will ultimately result in a BOOK!
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This series will be a wonderful resource for parents, teachers, and therapists to learn about all the different activities a child performs each day. Every month, each therapist will discuss different aspects of functional skills. Each childhood function will be broken down into developmental timelines, fine motor considerations, gross motor considerations, sensory considerations, visual perceptual considerations, accommodations and modifications, activity ideas, and more.
This month’s topic in the “Functional Skills for Kids” blog hop is PLAY, so check out the landing page for the rest of our posts and information on all things related to play skills!
what is play?
Play is defined as an activity that a person engages in for recreation and enjoyment. For children, play is crucial to their development and learning. A child’s primary occupation is to play, learn, and socialize (AOTA, 2015). As a child plays, they develop the ability to problem solve, learn new skills, and use coordination and motor skills. (AOTA, 2011). It is important to remember that children learn best when they play with toys that are geared towards their developmental level (raisingchildren.net). Encouraging play with toys that are above your child’s developmental levels can lead to frustration and distraction. You can check out my list of favorite developmental toys for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers in the links below presented with Dinosaur PT here…
why is PLAY important for children to learn?
Play is an important component of childhood learning. It fosters the development of motor skills, teaches children how to use their bodies, and helps children learn about the world around them. When a child “plays”, it can be a structured game with rules such as kickball, free play (building with blocks), or engaging with a toy or another person. Although play is perceived as “fun”, it is also a vital part of childhood development.
For example, an infant may “play” by cooing and giggling with mommy. That baby is developing the ability to make eye contact, socialize, and form a relationship. A toddler may play with blocks or toy trains. He is developing the ability to use his two hands together to connect the blocks, visual skills to line them up properly, and imagination to decide what he wants to build. As he plays on the floor with his train, he is crawling on all fours, using his body to bear weight, and using eye-hand coordination to keep his train on the track. A school age child plays a board game with a friend. Although socializing and forming a friendship with a peer, he is also learning to follow rules, take turns, and cope with losing/ or learning to be a good sport.
As children grow older, the activities they participate in as “Play” activities change. So do the benefits and acquired skills of the activity they are engaging in.
When a child’s attention limits his ability to play for extended periods of time, it also interferes with his ability to develop the skills that naturally emerge from playtime. So, as you can see, PLAY IS VERY IMPORTANT!