You may be thinking to yourself, “I’ve mastered peek-a-boo! What else is there to learn?” However, what you may not know is how the power of child-centered play can unlock a whole new world for your baby.

Child-centered play is strongly encouraged by pediatricians because they see a significant correlation between this activity and language development, increased independence and attention span, and many other cognitive benefits for your baby.

But what exactly is child-centered play and how can you channel these benefits of play with your baby?

Child-Centered Play

Child-centered play is a way for you to play with your baby where you follow her lead and pace in whatever activity she chooses. For example, if she’s blowing raspberries with her mouth, you want to imitate this same action and sound and narrate the activity for her.

By mirroring your baby’s actions, she is learning that she’s important and that you are paying close attention to what she’s doing. But it isn’t enough to simply imitate your baby as the narration and verbal description is the key to child-centered play.

The easiest way to master this is to pretend you are the color commentator or play-by-play announcer, on the baby’s interaction. Describe her actions and encourage her by saying, “Wow, you are making a raspberry. What a great raspberry!”

By describing the play, you are not only adding to her vocabulary, but you are also expanding her knowledge of colors, letters, numbers and the whole world around her. And keep the conversation going!

As she responds with noises and words of her own, verbally reflect your baby’s feelings by saying “you are having fun making noises and raspberries.”

Just Five Miutes of Play a Day

Only five minutes of child-centered play each day can significantly benefit your baby’s language and development. Here are Dr. Daniel Kessler‘s 10 easy steps to help you master child-centered play with your baby:

• Follow the child’s lead and pace in whatever activity they choose
• Get down on the ground with the child
• Imitate their play
• Describe their actions – “You are using green paint”
• Verbally reflect the child’s feelings – “You seem to enjoy the red truck”
• Encourage the child – “You threw that ball far”
• Be enthusiastic through your words and facial expressions
• Expand play, but do not change direction or theme of play
• Express interest in who they are and what they are doing
• Listen & be present!

Southwest Human Development is dedicated to building positive futures for our community’s children and helping parents is a critical part of reaching that goal.We offer support for a children with developmental issues or even if you are simply struggling with the day-to-day stresses of raising kids, we can help put you on the path to parenting success.

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Article Source: SWHD