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Play and reading! What is the connection?

Reading. We all know how important it is. “Today a reader, tomorrow a leader.” And all those other important reading quotes.

But how do we actually get our children to read.

I’m not talking about just reading the basic short stories from school, but to actually love reading and to want to experience it and learn through it. Now, if reading is a struggle, your kids will not love it. But if they read with ease, they will develop a passion for reading. So we need to help our children read with ease, this will be the key to developing this passion.

The obvious answer is to read to them and that really is important. But reading to your children doesn’t help them build the skills necessary to actually read, and to read well. Reading is one of the most difficult skills a child will have to master; it incorporates perceptual skills such as auditory discrimination, body awareness, classification, fine motor skills, form perception, phonics and visual perception. I mean, seriously, how long is that list?? Just to read?! I will elaborate on each of these skills below, so that we all understand why they are necessary:

  1. Auditory discrimination is a child’s ability to differentiate different sounds from one another, and it is important in helping a child to sound out words when learning to read so that they can tell the difference between different vowel and consonant sounds, and their various combinations.
  2. Body awareness refers to the understanding of how your body functions, the coordination of movements and the ability to physically perform tasks. Tracking of the child’s head from left to right, eye’s from left to right, top to bottom, etc. are all necessary skills for reading.
  3. Classification is the ability to sort objects in accordance with their kind or their class. Children need to be able to recognise letters and words according to their classification; vowels and nouns for example.
  4. Fine-motor skills are a necessary perceptual skill, not only for the physical coordination that reading requires, such as holding the book, turning the pages, etc. but also for the cognitive links that hand-eye coordination builds within the brain. This helps children to string sentences together and make sense of longer sentences.
  5. Form perception is the ability that a child has to recognise shapes and distinguish them from one another. This is necessary for sight-words; words that children recognise by the shape. It also comes into play with speed reading so is a very valuable skill to develop.
  6. Phonics Children need to know how letters of the alphabet sound, what sounds they make when put together, and the different sounds words make. This helps them with understanding the flow of words and sentences. It also helps them sound out an unfamiliar word when reading, allowing them to grow their vocabulary.
  7. Visual Perception is the way that the brain interprets the messages being sent from the eyes. The ability to perceive words and letters is integral to reading, and is a skill that needs to be developed before effective reading can take place.

BUT, there is hope.

*Thankfully* all of these skills can be developed through play. Yup, you heard that right, all.of.these.skills. With a few targeted, outdoor activities, we can develop the perceptual skills in our kids necessary for them to develop a love for reading.

Let’s talk about technology

Let’s talk about technology. Let’s face it; in this day and age, technology is at the centre of everything and is a massive part of our children’s future. I heard someone say that by the time our children are out of school, we will be illiterate as the global language will be coding. Hearing things like this make me want take out the computer immediately and teach my children how to code before bedtime. But, at the same time, I know that too much screen time at this age is detrimental to my children’s development. So… the struggle is; how do I equip my children for a future filled with technology, without allowing technology to dominate their lives???

My biggest struggle is that technology is passive and feeds content to children, getting them to react accordingly, whereas in play, children create the content and their responses vary according to the way their imagination changes. Even in educational games on the computer or iPad, the responses are pre-programmed so I have difficulty seeing the developmental benefits at this stage, while knowing that navigating technology is imperative.

For reals though guys, I have been walking this tightrope for five years now, and I’ve learnt a few things along the way:

  1. Navigating technology requires skills my kids don’t have yet. So, in a fit of panic my husband and I decided we needed to teach our two eldest children to code (they are 4 and 5 years old). They have a basic understanding of computers from school so initially, they were keen and on-board. They became frustrated soon into the process, not because of the difficulty of the content, but because of the difficulty of coordinating what they were doing with their hands and what was happening on the screen. Yup, hand-eye-coordination, people. Before a skill can be translated into the 2D space, it HAS TO BE MASTERED in the 3D space. This makes me happy; it means I can go outside with a hoola hoop and a beanbag, get my kids to throw the beanbag through the hoop and build the skills they are going to need to succeed in a technological world.

  1. Meaningful technological skills (like coding) need a huge amount of imagination. I have spoken about the necessity of imagination play in a previous blog, and it is essential when applied to technology. Kids can’t learn to create content if they are constantly being fed content. Playing with blocks or a construction set, for example, opens up the world of creation, as kids need to use their imagination to build buildings, or shapes, or patterns.

  1. Engaging with technology is basically just sophisticated problem-solving. Because it uses software, technology has glitches and problems. Thus, when engaging with it, no matter how basic or sophisticated, you have to be able to cope with problems arising. Children have to have strategies to deal with those problems. If you give your child a construction set and ask them to build you a car; the process will be filled with experimenting with different pieces. Children will try pieces that don’t fit and then replace them with pieces that do. They can attempt to design a car, for example. This will involve them trying different designs until they find one that works, etc. Throughout that process, they are developing problem-solving strategies and learning how to cope when things don’t work out the first time.

  1. Technology can be used as a ‘sanity lifeline’. I used to be so rigid about screen time; it didn’t exist in my home, like AT ALL. I’ve begun to relax a little and, every now and again, I put a movie on for my kids when I am at my wits end. That way they get their screen time fix, and I get a cup of boiling hot tea in silence! Immediately afterwards though, they are cranky from sitting still for so long, so I make sure I have an activity planned so that they can get their minds and bodies working again. If, for example, I put a clip about dragons on, I’ll turn it off, tip up the blocks and say ‘now let’s build a dragon fort’. This prevents an end of screen time tantrum, and allows them to access parts of their brains they had turned off while watching the TV.

All in all, the one important thing I’ve learnt is that technology is, and will be, an integral part of our children’s lives, and it’s up to us to help them build the skills they will need to navigate this in the future.

As one parent to another – we’re in this together!
Brittany

School Holidays.

School Holidays. Let’s be honest, a few of you just got cold chills running down your spine, while your kids are like best.life.ever.

Allow me to blow your mind; I LOVE school holidays. I know you didn’t think you would ever hear those words from another grown adult, but it is true. It’s possible to drink hot tea, while your kids play contentedly, while learning, for three long weeks. There is a trick though, to getting holidays right, and it involves a bucket of goodies that you have tucked away for this very moment.

So let’s chat through this ‘bucket list’ together because surely every mom deserves a hot cup of tea and kids who aren’t crying, whining, fighting or all of the above, right? So, here is a simple guideline to my favourite holiday bucket.

  1. Dot stickers: Friend, if you haven’t got yourself a sheet of dot stickers have you even lived? There are so many activities that you can put together in a second with these beauties and the benefits are endless. The first, most important one is… dot stickers don’t tear when tiny humans try pull them off. Let’s be honest, if there has ever been a mood killer it is the sad little person who just ripped the head of his dinosaur. That’s a no for me, thanks.
  2. Sticky notes: These are basically just big dot stickers. Easy to stick and remove without tearing, and GREAT for learning sequencing, whether it’s names, numbers or learning any sequence, these are your go-to.
  3. A ball/sandbag: Rolling, throwing, kicking, catching, tipping- take it from someone who has no ball skills, it’s a lonely life on this side. Using a ball is a great way to create the neurological pathways necessary for maths and science, while also developing those little muscles to become future athletes. Win!
  4. A board game: Let’s be honest, there are days when you don’t feel like setting up an activity, when your kids don’t feel like playing outside, when everyone just want to chill. An easy to understand board game like dominos, snakes and ladders or even a puzzle is a great way for everyone to just relax and enjoy themselves. Also, it’s great at building maths skills.
  5. A bucket: Wait, is this a trick? Isn’t the point of the bucket to store all the other things? No… there are so many benefits to an empty bucket, it’s crazy. Whether it is being used as a target in bean-bag tossing, or for some messy play, the opportunities are endless.
  6. Random small toys: cars, dinosaurs, animals, pom poms, bloacks, etc. These are useful for most messy play, sorting, cleaning activities and help get the creative juices flowing.

If you are struggling to fill your bucket, Truly Toys has put one together with all of your holiday necessities, all you have to do is order it here. So, you now have a bucket of things but no real plan on how to use them #fail. Don’t despair! If you need more guidance on what activities you can use these for, head over to Instagram where I will be doing a post every other day to help make your holidays that much more enjoyable.

What?! Another blog about imagination play?

Structured imagination play; I know what you’re thinking… another blog about imagination play? Yes!

There is that much that we need to say about kids using their imagination! So, Dress Up happened and. It. Was. Worth it. Seriously though, if you were on this journey with us, I hope it was as an exciting experience for you as it was for me. If you weren’t, don’t panic!

All you need to do is visit our blog on Dress-up.

So what does this next phase of imagination play look like in reality? All you do is take a scene that is part of your everyday family life and recreate a safe, miniature version of it. It is that simple. Take my all-time favourite example; the kitchen. My kids and I spend a lot of time in the kitchen. I mean A LOT. They need millions of snacks, and meals, and drinks and all within a ten minute time span. Did I mention we spend a lot of time in the kitchen? So it is the perfect environment to get your children imagining; they could be the next junior “masterchef”, or even build up the skills necessary to take over cooking dinner; we can all dream right. Recreate your kitchen for some structured imagination play. It really is not as complicated as it sounds. Most of what you need you already have in your kitchen. Add a little wooden oven and BAM! Hours of tea drinking in your future.

You’re probably asking (because you may take tea drinking less seriously than me), why is this important? Well, there are multiple developmental advantages for your child in structured imagination play, here are a few:

Develops an understanding of processes:

  • As children begin to get older they should be able to process multiple instructions at the same time. A sad thing about the digital age is that children are losing this processing function as technology now provides instantaneous solutions at the click of a button. Your child needs to learn cause and effect; how chopping vegetables needs to happen BEFORE frying them, for example. In the little makeshift kitchen that I created, my son went for the mixer first- the coolest kitchen appliance. But what use is a mixer without ingredients? And what use are ingredients without a recipe – a sequence of steps that lead to a desired result.
  • In this secure environment, my son was able to form cognitive links necessary to understand that things have to happen in a specific order.

Creates an understanding of scientific methodology:

  • As we got started both my children had a conversation about what they would make, and what ingredients they would need (all pretend of course), and what sequence they would follow. In this way they formulated an aim, developed a method, thought about what ingredients and equipment to use and got to work. Wait… did my 3 and 4 year olds just utilise the same methodology as a scientific experiment? Yes… yes they did. #imaginationplayforthewin
  • Encourages the use of imagination in those children who struggle to access that part of their brain.
  • For some children, the sheer open-endedness of dress up can be overwhelming. Some children love it, others are intimidated by it. My daughter, for example, dressed as a chef for around 15 minutes. But then, wanting to get back into a world with which she is more familiar, she changed back into her dress and once again became a princess. She is the kind of child that wants a little bit more structure and needs more encouragement to draw out the imagination process.
  • The real world can be intimidating to your child, or could even be out of bounds  because it is not safe – a hot plate on a stove, for example. With imagination play, however, everyday environments are created to encourage children to engage with real life scenarios, but now in a safe and child-friendly way.
  • Imagination play allows children to draw on concrete examples that guide the process of play and allows them to move from one activity to the next, drawing on past experiences.

Encourages social development:

  • Again, my favourite type of development. Creating an environment outside of the real world provides your child with a safe environment in which to have conversations they may be reluctant to have in real life situations. They work together by assigning roles and responsibilities, they argue about whose turn it is to use the mixer and then resolve the argument by taking turns, etc.
  • Taking turns, the biggest struggle formost children. When playing in structured environments there are pieces of equipment that they both want to use at the same time, or they want to use what the other is working with. Sound familiar? Like the mixer; this is by far the most popular kitchen tool. My son convinced my daughter that it was more fun to chop vegetables than play with the mixer. This left him with free reign over the preferred toy, and she still had a meaningful role to play. So what did they learn? Well, they both learned compromise and reasoning without even knowing they were learning.
  • Helps with problem solving:
    • Ok, so now the children have a recipe which they have figured out. Yes, a scientific methodology. What they now have to do is solve various problems along the way.
    • They need water but how will they measure it out? They run through to the actual kitchen to retrieve my measuring spoons. Now they have water, they add some sand, and mix it all together. It is ready to go into the oven. How hot must the oven be? How long must it be in the oven for? You get the idea?
    • With this specific example my children also started coming to terms with some mathematical concepts. When they cut a vegetable in half, I explained what a half was and what a whole was; you’d think this concept was too advanced for a three and four year old. Not at all, they grasped it immediately and began using that terminology in play.

I really could go on forever because there are endless developmental advantages to structured imagination play. But the most important one of all, it gives you a few hours of peaceful, tea-drinking alone time where you get to watch learning unfold before your eyes.

Enjoy the experience – Brittany

Growing your child’s imagination

The aeroplane, the light bulb, television; none of these remarkable achievements would have been possible without imagination. So how do we cultivate imagination through play in our toddlers? If you’re anything like me, you want the most significant outcome with the least amount of preparation and effort, I mean, who wants to spend an hour putting together an activity that your kids get tired of in 20 minutes, right?

Cue… Dress-up. The options are limitless and the preparation, well… that’s the best part, there is none! Whether it is in the classroom or at home, all you need to do is provide your kids with a couple of options and voila! They are using their imaginations before even putting the outfits on! I know what you’re thinking; is there really any value to dress-up? Why can’t my kids use their imaginations in their normal clothes?

In a world where technology provides our kids with an excuse NOT to use their imagination, by showing them anything they desire on TV, or providing them with Apps that do their imagining for them, they often require a little more motivation to access that part of their brains. Once they do though, the developmental milestones they achieve are limitless! So I decided to do a little test-run with my kids- naturally these things need to be verified. I was not disappointed! They love experimenting with different roles and exploring new scenarios.

Need some more convincing? Here are 6 life skills children develop while playing dress-up:

  1.       Cognitive development

–        Memory: Before children can begin using their imagination to create new scenarios in Dress-up, they have to draw on past experiences. They access their memories for scenarios that they have experienced, and can recreate through play. This helps them improve their memories which, in turn, leads to improved concentration, better focus and increased attention span.

–        Role Play: Children access their memories for relevant scenarios that can be used in imagination play. They then take these memories and apply them to the roles that their dress-up clothes determine. It enables them to gain perspective be re-enacting situations they have been through, from the outlook of a different role-player.

  1.       Building vocabulary

–        Engaging in role-play helps build a child’s vocabulary as they have to find new words that are applicable to different scenarios. While my son was dressed up as a doctor he asked me the names of all the different apparatus and what the function was of each. He then proceeded to explain each tool to his ‘patient’ and used them to treat him. He then asked me what food was good to fix sick people and asked his sister, dressed as a chef, to cook that food or his sick teddy. None of this vocabulary would come up in an ordinary situation; it was all encouraged by dress-up.

  1.       Learning how to solve problems

–        Believe it or not, simply providing children with more than one option for dress-up allows them to start the problem solving process. Before choosing which outfit they would like to wear, they will first have to work out which scenario they can apply to which outfit, what their knowledge of that outfit is, and if they can imagine a scenario where they would have fun wearing that outfit.

–        Add a second child to the equation and you have problem solving on a whole new level. Who gets to wear which outfit? Who determines the role of each character? If problem solving initially wasn’t enough, here you’ve got some conflict resolution added to the mix as well. I saw this with my own kids; both wanted to be the chef, then both wanted to be the doctor. Eventually they both decided to take turns.

  1.       Processing function

–        This is my personal favourite benefit of dress-up. Play often provides a safe environment for kids to work through their fears and insecurities, and taking on a different role is a very effective way to do this. My son does not enjoy going to the doctor. When he was playing he was soothing his teddy by telling it that the stethoscope doesn’t hurt, by explaining why he had to get an injection, etc. He was working through his own insecurities.

–        Another benefit is the ability to build empathy. By putting themselves into another role, kids are able to recreate experiences through the eyes of somebody else. My daughter wanted to swap from being the chef to being a mommy. She sat with the teddy and held its hand, gave it cuddles. This also allows me to see how best I can respond to these different scenarios as well.

  1.       Motor skills

–        It wouldn’t be a useful activity if it wasn’t developing motor skills. Watch your child struggle to do up buttons and try tell me they aren’t utilizing underdeveloped muscles in their fingers.

–        Playing out different roles allows children to try new physical activities as they recreate roles and situations they have seen before. When it was my son’s turn to be the chef he set about chopping imaginary vegetables, peeling carrots, frying food. These are all things he has seen me do and was imitating.

  1.       Developing confidence

–        Dress-up allows children to assert themselves in a way that is often not socially acceptable for a child. They can voice their opinions, make decisions, see cause and effect, all from the safety of their chosen persona.

–        It also allows them to figure out real-life responses to different situations, something they may be too shy to do in a normal social situation. Then, the next time they are faced with a similar scenario, they would already have worked out the appropriate response in their mind, giving them more confidence in everyday situations.

All this and all you have to do is provide a few alternative dress-up outfits? Count me in. So your final question… is all of this going to cost me a fortune? The answer is no! Linked here are the dress-up outfits seen in the images. A few of these, added to some of your old dresses, t-shirts, belts and hats, will make for endless dress-up fun, which, most importantly, means hours of uninterrupted tea-drinking for you!

From one parent to another,
Brittany

How to make playtime count

Aside from ‘ABC’, learning ‘123’ is a critical milestone in your child’s early development. But numeracy is so much more than counting – it’s also measurement, spatial sense, estimation, patterns and problem-solving. And the good news is that you can develop all these skills through play. Here’s how…

9 Fun ways to strengthen your little one’s numeracy skills:

  1. Use sand and water to develop your little one’s mathematical concepts and language, including ‘heavy’, ‘light’, ‘empty’, ‘full’, ‘big’, ‘little’. The sandpit is also a great place for your child to begin identifying different shapes and numbers.
  2. Playdough is a fun way to play with concepts like short, long, fat and thin, and create shapes of different dimensions.
  3. Fantasy or imaginary play also offers children an opportunity to practise their numeracy skills while they’re setting the tea table for their teddies – after all, how many are coming for tea and if there are only so many biscuits being served, how many can each one have?
  4. Playing with cars, blocks and collections of toys is a great way to increase children’s counting, sorting and sequencing abilities.
  5. Block play can also help to build their understanding of weight and dimensions.
  6. Teach your children rhymes with a mathematical element e.g. “One, two, three, four, five, once I caught a fish alive…”
  7. During reading time, encourage your child to count the number things on the page (people, animals, shapes, objects etc.).
  8. Gardening is not only a way to teach them responsibility, it’s a Maths opportunity too – they can measure the size of their plants as they watch them grow!
  9. Get your kids involved in chores from an early age (you’ll thank us later!) so they can work on their sorting and sequencing skills as they help you tidy. Even cooking and baking together is an opportunity to count, measure, add and estimate.

 

Further reading:

Your holiday help is here!

Life’s a beach… until you’re taking the whole family with you! Jokes aside, going on that long-awaited seaside getaway is a wonderful way to spend quality family time together. But it’s not always easy to keep everyone entertained and happy.

Here are our top tips for a better beach break – one that actually feels like a holiday!

  1.     Bring a beach blanket – from your bed

No need to go out and buy a blanket for the beach – a fitted sheet works wonders. Place the items you’re taking with you in each corner of the sheet to create the perfect sand-free sanctuary.

  1.      The freezer is your friend

Save cooler space by freezing water bottles, yoghurt, grapes and other snacks the night before so you won’t need ice bricks.

  1.      Pick a strategic spot

With December’s busy beaches, it’s best to arrive early so that you can claim the best spot on the sand. This also means that you get your beach time in before the sun becomes too intense. 

  1.      Beat the burn

Try to minimise your children’s sun exposure as much as possible by getting them to cover up with hats, sunglasses and sunscreen. Remember to reapply sunscreen regularly, especially after swimming. Using a sunscreen spray avoids the messy mix of sun cream and sand.

  1.      Your beach bestie = talc powder

Did you know that baby powder helps get rid of sand? Dust it over your children’s bodies before rinsing or dusting off the powder and the pesky beach sand along with it.

  1.      Your secret stash

When the whole crew is going for a dip and you need to keep your valuables safe, stash them in a clean nappy! Potential thieves are unlikely to take a peek inside there…

  1.      Hunt for buried treasure

Bury items in the beach sand near you to make a treasure hunt. Items like big shells, balls, shovels and other beach toys make for good loot. Another idea is to set kids off on a scavenger hunt with a list of things they need to find or see on the beach.

  1.      Beach toys will keep kids entertained for hours

What could make for a better break than the world’s largest sandpit and pool? There really is fun for everyone at the beach, made even more exciting with seaside toys. Check out our selection of sand and water toys that will keep your children entertained – and learning through play – for hours.

And because you can’t guarantee 24/7 fun in the sun, it’s also a good idea to pack some indoor activities like puzzles and drawing and painting tools. These are small and easy to pack and will help to keep boredom at bay on a rainy day.

To find out more about our educational toys for all ages, please visit our website or contact us for a quote: 011 618 1337 / sales2@trulytoys.co.za.

At Truly Toys, we help you to be an even better parent or teacher by providing learning resources for dynamic play that encourage children’s development.

Further reading:

The little skills that make a big difference

From brushing our teeth to typing, we utilise our fine motor skills every single day at home, work and on the go. For children, learning how to use these smaller muscle groups effectively and efficiently is a critical part of their early childhood development.

What are fine motor skills?

Fine motor skills involve the smaller muscles of the body, generally in the hands, fingers and wrists. Activities that use fine motor skills include using a writing apparatus, building with blocks, opening a lunch box, tying a shoelace and doing up buttons.

Broadly speaking, fine motor skills can be split into three main categories:

  1. Academic (e.g. using a pencil or scissors)
  2. Play (e.g. puzzles, using technology)
  3. Self-care (e.g. dressing, eating, hygiene)

The building blocks of fine motor skills

  • Strength
  • Fine motor control
  • Dexterity

The benefits of good fine motor skills

Fine motor skills are essential for performing everyday tasks – academic, recreational and otherwise. If a child lacks the ability to use their fine motor skills effectively, this can have an adverse effect on their options for play, self-esteem and academic performance.

Signs that your child may have fine motor difficulties

  • Avoids or is uninterested in ‘fiddly’ finger skills
  • Prefers physical activity to sit-down tasks
  • Enjoys ‘passive’ activities such as watching TV
  • Relies on others to clean their teeth, dress them etc.

How you can help children develop fine motor skills

Developing sufficient fine motor skills will benefit children throughout their entire lives. The good news is that developing fine motor skills can be fun!

  • Encourage little hands to play with a variety of items to help them develop dexterity and strength
  •       Try out tasks that use just one or two fingers instead of all the fingers at once
  •       Encourage and reward any pen-to-paper activities

Toys that promote fine motor development

  • Different types of puzzles – peg puzzles, raised puzzles, block puzzles, jigsaw puzzles
  • Space, shape and colourtoys – 3D shapes, elastic boards, blocks, tangrams, beads and laces
  • Blocks and construction toys
  • Play dough and crafts
  • Drawing and painting tools

If you are still concerned about your child’s lack of fine motor skills, consider having them assessed by an occupational therapist, who will be able to determine the best course of treatment.

The dos and don’ts of toddler toys

By age two, children are into everything and have well-established likes and dislikes – as they’ll remind you with a regular tantrum or three. They may be all about problem solving and doing things “all by myself”, but they’ve still got a lot to learn and that’s where playtime – and the right toys – comes into play. Here’s our list of dos and don’ts when it comes to toys for toddlers.

 

DON’T only buy the ‘popular’ toy

Every toy offers some value to the children who play with it. How much value and how long that value will last, however, is another matter entirely. Instead of choosing toys that excite them for a short while before being tossed aside for the next ‘big thing’, choose toys that offer longer-term tangible educational value.

DO choose toys that teach

  • Does this toy inspire active play?
  • Will it offer my child some sort of challenge?
  • Is there more than one way to play with it?

 

If you can answer yes to all three of these questions, then you’re looking at an educational toy. To read more about educational toys and their positive impact on your child’s development, read our blog post on the subject here.

 

DON’T fall into the trap of believing more is more

As much as we encourage children to play with a variety of toys, don’t get caught in the trap of an overflowing-yet-underplayed toy box. In a world that’s increasingly concerned about simple, waste-free living, it’s time to make smart toy choices for our children.

DO let them make their own toys

Sometimes the best toy is not a toy at all! Take fantasy play, for example. All you need is a couple of sticks and you’ve got a battle between two Jedi Knights, a handful of flowers and you’ve got a fairy kingdom, a bowl of mud and you’ve got a bakery.

Of course, real toys (like dolls, dress-up, trucks and cooking props) are great for stimulating their imaginations too…not to mention, play a critical supporting role in the land of make believe.

 

DON’T always choose the technology pacifier 

Handing your child your phone or tablet to give you an hour of peace in a chaotic day is only natural – and very understandable when it’s a toddler you’re dealing with. However, you should try to keep this ‘solution’ as the exception rather than the rule for their sake (read about the pros and cons of screen time here).

 

DO find creative ways to keep them busy

Sometimes all your tired twosie needs is a distraction – or a good nap – so keep a variety of independent play ideas in your arsenal for those tiring times. Stock up on colouring books, audio books and puzzles for that all-important quiet corner.

At Truly Toys, we help you to be an even better parent or teacher by providing educational toys and learning resources for dynamic play that encourage children’s development.

Literacy skills

Give your child the ABC advantage

How to build a firm foundation for lifelong learning

“Literacy is a bridge from misery to hope…the road to human progress and the means through which every man, woman and child can realise his or her full potential.” – Kofi Annan

Nurturing a child’s literacy skills is so important for their future that you literally cannot start too early. In this article, we share 10 ways that you can encourage little ones on their literacy journey to success.

What is literacy?

In simple terms, literacy is the ability to read and write. But it is so much more than that. According to UNESCO, literacy is now understood as “a means of identification, understanding, interpretation, creation, and communication in an increasingly digital, text-mediated, information-rich and fast-changing world.”

10 easy ways to develop children’s literacy skills:

  1. Reading aloud to your newborn helps them become attuned to your voice, different sounds and tones of language as their hearing develops.
  2. Teach your toddler to say hello and goodbye in different languages – even the physical act of waving will help them to learn these expressive statements.
  3. Read as a family (you all need to take a break from screens anyway) and establish reading as a hobby to be enjoyed for a lifetime.
  4. Encourage storytelling (fictional and real) on a daily basis because oral storytelling is a bridge to written stories.
  5. Record your children’s stories on your phone or turn them into a book and watch as they realise the magic of transforming spoken stories into written words.
  6. Get children to describe their experiences in detail and encourage them to share their feelings from a young age (which is also important for their emotional development).
  7. Play language games to build up children’s vocabulary, develop their comprehension skills and boost their explanatory skills. You could also get a couple of doodle boards (so they can practise the shapes of letters and numbers), flash cards, phonic books and CDs.
  8. Involve children in your own literacy activities, such as compiling shopping lists, creating invitations, writing cards and keeping a journal.
  9. Sing together! Singalong songs can really help children to learn new words, practise different sounds and develop their thinking skills.
  10. Share the joy by giving books instead of cards, passing on your favourite books to others, and donating to community literacy projects.

For more ideas on how to develop a child’s lifelong love of reading, take a look here.

At Truly Toys, we help you to be an even better parent or teacher by providing learning resources for dynamic play that encourage children’s development.

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