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Archive for the ‘play’ Category


One of the definitions on the Merriam-Webster dictionary for scaffold is a supporting framework.

Wikipedia defines scaffolding as  a temporary structure used to support people and material in the construction or repair of buildings and other large structures.

Based on these definitions, the training wheels on a bicycle, is an example of scaffolding. They are adjustable and temporary and provide the child with the support they need while learning to ride a bike with 2 wheels. Having the training wheels make the complex task of pedaling, balancing and steer (all at the same time), much easier until the child can do it on its own.

Scaffolding can also mean that a large task can be broken down into smaller tasks (to make it easier to accomplish).

In education, scaffolding is an instructional technique where the teacher models the desired learning strategy/task, and then gradually shifts responsibility to the students, whether is by giving more support at the beginning and gradually taking it away (training wheels) or by learning something in smaller steps.

Scaffolding can also be used to help your children develop certain physical, cognitive or linguistic skills.  Imagine your child is playing with a musical toy for the first time. Parents usually show the baby where the buttons are so it can turn on the music. Then, you expect the child to ‘learn’ how to do it on their own. If they can’t do it, you might point to the button, and hopefully the child now learns it. This might have to happen a few times before the child knows what to do. That’s exactly what scaffolding is. The parent gave more ‘help’ at the beginning and gradually moved the responsibility to the child.

Scaffolding gives the child a context, motivation, or foundation to understand the new information. Having success from the beginning makes the child have some interest or curiosity in the task presented. Also, breaking a complex task into easier, more “doable” steps facilitates success.

So next time you see your child attempting to learn something, how are you going to use scaffolding techniques to help them?


Play stages: Associate Play (3-4 years)

Today is week 3 of our Play stages blog festival! Today we’ll talk about Associate Play.

By 3 years children start interacting with other in their play and there may be fleeting cooperation between in play. This cooperation is it is however a loosely organized fashion. During associate play the more mature child soon emerges as the leader or organizer. They develop friendships and the preferences for playing with some but not all other children. during this stage play is normally in mixed sex groups.  Children are now recognizing shapes, letters and colors, solving jigsaw puzzles through mixture of thinking and trial and error. They play cooperatively together and take turns with other children. Show more reasoning skills and asking questions for instance ‘why’ and ‘how’. During this stage they are also start pretend play, for example playing  house, dressing up and cooking.

Next week we’ll talk some more about pretend play!

Is your child now playing in cooperation with other children? What do they like to play?

Play stages: Parallel Play (2-3 years)

Last week we started talking about play stages. This week we’ll talk about a very important stage: Parallel Play.

Many caregivers try to make children play with each other, thinking that when children are together they have to interact with each other. But, not interacting is what parallel play is all about; that’s how they are supposed to play.

Parallel play involves two or more children in the same room. They are interested in the same toys and both see the toy as belonging to them, but they do not play together. They are playing and observing other children playing around each other simply because they are in the same area.

Other important things that happen during this stage is that they begin to use symbols in their play such as a stick becoming a sword. They also start to show some reasoning skills, may still learn by trial and error. They copy adults and other children. Parallel play serves as a bridge to more complex cooperative activities, which we’ll talk about in the next few weeks.

Who does your child enjoy parallel playing with?

Play stages: Solitary Play (0-2 years)

Play is children’s work. No, seriously. That’s how they learn and develop many, many skills! It is REALLY important for them to be exposed to different toys and have time for structured and free play. It is also important that they have someone that can show them how to play and have some time to explore toys and objects by themselves.

Today we can explore those play skills that are typical of children from 0-2 years old. `

This first stage is called Solitary play because during this stage children play alone. For instance, they rattle, shake and bang things with both hands and there is limited interaction with other children.

Between 0-6 months they look at adults closely, put things into mouth and touch things with their hands. Between 6-12 months they look at and imitate adults and copy movements such dropping objects (isn’t that fun!). They like simple games like peek-a-boo. By12-18 months they learn through trial and error, for instance banging two objects and finding out the sounds it makes. They repeat actions that they have enjoyed. They may start playing with grown-ups and notice other children but they still play and ‘talk’ alone.

Between 18 months- 2 years they continue exploring things with their mouths. Now, they look at other children playing but do not join in the play. They enjoy playing with adults as well as by themselves.

Infants play by themselves because they are so busy exploring and discovering their new world. Every new object or situation that is introduced is a new learning experience for the newborn. Solitary play begins in infancy and is common in toddlers because of their limited social, cognitive, and physical skills. However, it is important for all age groups to have some time to play by themselves!

Is you baby in the solitary stage? What is he/she doing?