Interactions through Play
(while enhancing development!)
Naomi Nickson M.Ed.
Connect Child & Parent Enrichment
It’s no secret that play is critical for a
child’s development. What may be more
challenging is discovering ways to enhance
that play, finding the time to make play
meaningful, and keeping your child
engaged for longer periods of time to
maximize experiences. Here are some “Basics
for Play” to consider and keep in mind
while playing with your child at home.
Follow your child’s lead. Getting on
your child’s level and joining in their play
is one of the easiest ways to make play
meaningful. Showing genuine interest in a
child’s interests opens up opportunities for
all other play to occur. This indirectly tells
children that what they are doing is important
and special to you. Following their
lead can be challenging if you have a child
who perseverates or has very specific interests
with toys but do not get discouraged.
The social interaction is most important.
In order to introduce new toys, you must
always begin play with toys of interest.
Then, and slowly, introduce new toys by
modeling how to use them yourself while
making them easily available.
Expand your child’s play. Think beyond
ways toys are “meant” to be used. Toys can
be used in various ways to work on multiple
concepts and areas of development.
Consider that playing allows for continuous
opportunities to increase language
skills, social-emotional skills, cognitive
skills and independent skills. Take legos
for example: Playing with legos can target
cognitive skills (colors, counting, height,
length), fine motor skills (using hands/
fingers), social-cial-emotional emotional skills skills (turnby
sharing, patience, persistence,
imagination, dramatic play) and language
(constant ability to talk about what you
see, feel, build). Do not pressure yourself
to turn every play situation into an educational
lesson but it can be helpful to brainstorm
ideas beforehand of new and fun
ways to use the materials with your child
that then allows you to go-with-the-flow
and incorporate those skills into the play.
Have fun! Enjoy the opportunities to
communicate and bond with your child.
When a child sees an adult’s enthusiasm
they are more likely to initiate play in the
future. Keep in mind that quality of play
will always be more important than quantity
of play. Essentially, when taking the
time to sit down and play with your child,
make it count. Ten minutes of quality play
is more impactful than twenty minutes of
distracted or chaotic play. Make it meaningful
by giving them your undivided
attention. They will only be at this age or
stage in development for a brief period of
time. Relish the moments you are able to
share with them.
To learn more contact Naomi Nickson,
M.Ed. at Connect Child & Parent Enrichment
at firstname.lastname@example.org or 407-902-
7814. Visit www.connectcpe.com for more
details about her counseling and coaching