It’s becoming increasingly vital to keep toddlers preoccupied with things other than technology, it’s easy to let them sit in front of the television or computer and it’s something all parents should try to avoid. Playing outside has been demonstrated to help essential growth in a little ones psychological development, and it’s never been so vital.
Children love to play… and we need to keep influencing it in as many ways possible, a child’s imagination is much stronger than that of an adults, it is so diverse and unique that it can help early learning at a young age Playing with sand is a fun and unique activity that has been enjoyed by both children and their parents for century’s, and it’s not just fun. Sand play has an influence on the interactional and coordinational skills of a child’s psychology, it can help development later on in adolescence and is a great way to play.
What may seem boring to the average person is far from it inside your little’ns mind, for a toddler sand offers a world of fun, it offers a chance to create, build, draw, feel and touch at a young age.
Help their interactional development!
A child learns to interact in four steps, these are seeing, reflecting, doing and learning… it’s a lot like how an adult may learn a new skill. A child’s mind is incredibly logical and analytical, if you have children I am sure you have been asked a million different questions and had to explain each one in detail, and this is exactly why.
If we were to break these steps up we have seeing, this is where your little one is watching the world around them, scanning every tiny detail with their little eyes. They will then question what they have seen and reflect upon it in their own logical way, children are already very logical and incredibly intelligent at a young age. They then act upon their reflection and learn from it, this is how interactional development works.
When a child is not socialising with other children they are missing an opportunity to learn through these steps, and play is a great way to get children socialising. Whether its directly with you, in the playground or on play dates learning through play is natural and critical.
So where does the sand come in..? Well sand play is just one way you can achieve these educational steps, there are also many other ways but this is one I have researched extensively. Think of the sandpit as the meeting point of the play ground, it’s where all the gossip gets about! To a child it’s like their local coffee shop.
Playing in the sandpit also helps to teach your children cooperation and early teamwork skills, when you let a group of children play their imaginations run wild, creating new worlds and assigning roles, jobs and goals. These play functions teach basic task assigning and achieving that can prepare your little one for later life and it’s one of the main reasons imagination play is constant in your child’s routine.
Teach hand-eye coordination!
Coordination is something that should not be overlooked, it’s critical with our every day activities and it’s something that should be taught well at an early age. So what exactly is hand-eye coordination..? It’s the moment when your child’s brain decides to communicate in an effective way with their body, it’s the moment your child first grabs the bottle and manages to drink it without spilling it everywhere! It’s vital to the growth of your child and it will help them plan, predict and react when growing up.
So how does playing in the sand help exactly? Well it focuses on the two key parts of coordinational development, these are bilateral coordination and hand-eye coordination…
Hand-eye coordination which is sometimes referred to as visual-motor integration helps your child to read, write, catch and perform most every day activity’s. It teaches distance, depth, weight, shape and texture and allows your children to do things like tying shoe laces and writing homework and stories in a much more productive way… Playing with sand requires the ability for your brain to use sight and body together and a great way to influence this more is to do some basic educational activities with your child in the sand…. But let’s make it fun! You can use sticks or the end of a pencil to draw patterns, words and numbers ,this is a good form of education and it’s a fun way to teach hand-eye coordination in the sand.
Bilateral coordination is using both sides of your body at the same time, it teaches you to move at the same time in a symmetrical way. It teaches how to push on both hands at the same time with equal pressure or move both legs at an equal pace, it’s actually something we take for granted every day. When you play in the sand you often build castles and structures and doing this requires bilateral coordination, it involves the coordination of your hands and arms.
Playing with sand also develops early muscle growth and motor skills, through grasping, lifting and pouring the shoulders and lower and upper arm muscles will be used to full advantage much like with other types of play. Try introducing tools to the play sessions which will greatly impact all forms of coordination and also make things a lot of fun!
Inspire artistic creation and development!
Art is a great form of expression, it’s endless and it helps the imaginative growth of your toddler. It’s important to encourage in many aspects and amongst many other materials sand offers a wide range of possibilities for creation. Through sand play you can let your child create and explore the creative aspects of their imagination.
Try to add new materials to their play session or take the sand into the classroom or indoors, you can use water, food colouring or glue to make the sand more artistic or add sticks and glue to use it in portraits. One thing to remember is to encourage and let your child explore, feel free to influence ideas and see where they get with it.
If you would like any more information or advice about sand play or play in general feel free to contact me or leave a comment below. You can also read more about sand play or read about sand pit safety and get advice on buying a sandpit at my play website.
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