Child Care Science Corner: Fun Science Activities for Kids in Omaha
As your youngster starts exploring art, emotions, and reading, make ...
Toddlers are a fascinating but misunderstood age group. Their rate of development, curiosity, and testing are out of this world. While this is a wonderful age, it can often leave parents guessing about what activities to do at home with their toddlers or what’s behind toddler play and behavior in general. One toddler term heard often is “parallel play” and it’s pretty much the majority of what toddlers during play/learning time do.
Have you noticed that your toddler prefers to participate in a process but not directly share or collaborate? That is parallel play.
Have you noticed your toddler vocalizing toys and items they are playing with, but not really to “stop and talk”? That also is parallel play.
Do you see your toddler test ideas over and over again and want them to keep their autonomy during play? Once again, parallel play.
Parallel play serves as a link between observational and associative play. We advise parents to refrain from dismissing this play by rushing them to share too soon. Language development, gross and fine motor development, expression, autonomy, learning about boundaries, and eventually working together are all benefits of parallel play (but again, try not to force this last piece too soon).
Here is an example adults can identify with. Imagine being in a new workout class led by a competent instructor. First, you may observe the trainer’s steps to ensure proper form. However, before declaring yourself a master, you test the moves at your own pace, over and over again, until you have the rhythm down. Parallel play is similar to this stage of development, it’s a stage between observing and knowing.
As you can see it is a fascinating type of play when it comes to learning-by-doing. Here are some no-cost and purchasable ideas to facilitate practicing parallel play at home.
A seesaw is about as good as it gets when it comes to parallel play. With a seesaw, children physically align themselves but keep enough space for the autonomy a 2-year-old prefers. Link
Busy boards are the next step after single-user abacus toys (i.e., the beaded toys found in doctor’s offices). A busy board is usually large enough for more than one person to interact with and stimulates adults to open doors, latches, and locks in real life. Link
A multi-sided easel is an excellent way for your young painter to be inspired by their artistic peers while still having their own space to paint and experiment with color. Link
As always we encourage parents to observe their child first and then parallel-play along. It’s also beneficial to talk to toddler experts and discover ways to engage your little one. If anyone understands toddler play it will be a preschool teacher.
Check out the Wonderschool platform to message local preschool teachers and maybe enroll your child in a toddler program near you!