parenting

  • What are the ages and stages of child development? (Bonus chart!)

    Get the ages and stages development chart here!!

    During the first 3 years of life babies and toddlers are making 1-2 million neural connections a minute.  Mind blown! During those years they go through massive growth and hit multiple milestones a month.  

    But what milestones should your baby be meeting at every age?  Understanding the ages and stages of development can not only help you understand your child’s behavior but it can also help you set realistic parenting expectations.  

    A Brief History: What are developmental milestones?

    Developmental milestones are simply skills that children learn by a certain age.  It helps pediatricians and parents know that the child is growing and learning at the same rate as his peers.  Missing developmental milestones could mean the child has a developmental delay and needs special intervention to help them catch up. 

    Milestones include things like smiling, pointing at interesting things, crawling, and even lying.  They cover areas of physical development, mental development, and social development. 

    Do the First 7 Years of Life Really Mean Everything?

    “The first years are the most important in life of every child as they set the basis for overall success in life.” – Tanja Radocaj, UNICEF Representative 

    But are they?  Could early childhood trauma, developmental delays, and illness really determine whether a child has a successful and healthy life? 

    Honestly, this isn’t so clear, it is more of a gray area.  What we do know from recent studies is  that the first 7 years of a child’s life do hold an important part of their development, but your child’s fate isn’t sealed on their 8th birthday. 

    We should strive to make a loving, secure, and stimulating environment for young children, but if they face hardship or go through a traumatic experience they can still go on to lead full happy healthy lives with the right interventions. 

    What is the most important stage of child development?

    In the first 3  years, a child’s brain is developing at a seemingly lighting speed.  In fact, in the first 3 years of life, babies and toddlers are forming 1 million neural connections every minute.  

    That’s why babies and toddlers need to have a nurturing environment including a healthy diet, learning experiences, and healthy, loving relationships with caregivers. 

    What are the 5 Stages of Child Development?: The Ages and Stages of Child Development & Milestones At a Glance

    Child development is broken down into 5 stages, infancy, toddler, preschooler, school-age, and adolescent stages.  Each stage has a specific set of milestones and skills that the majority of children reach at that age. 

    Stage 1: Infancy/Baby (Birth – 18 Months) – Infant Developmental Milestones

    The infant stage is the first 18 months of your child’s life. During this time babies communicate their needs mostly through crying and it is on the caregiver to meet all of their needs.  You can find a full list on the CDC website. The milestones your child should reach during this time include: 

    • 2 months
      • May start smiling 
      • Looks for Parent
      • Coos
      • Turns head toward a sound
      • Pays attention to faces
      • Begins using eyes to track movement
      • Gets fussy when bored 
      •  Holds head up
    • 4 months
      • Likes to play
      • Smiles 
      • Starts mimicking facial expressions
      • Babbles
      • Responds to affection
      • Reaches for toys 
      • May roll over from tummy to back 
      • Pushes up on elbows
    • 6 month old
      • Knows familiar faces 
      • Likes to look at self in mirror 
      • Responds to the emotions of their caregiver
      • Takes turns babbling with parent
      • Responds to name
      • Shows curiosity 
      • Begins to pass things between hands
      • Rolls in both directions
    • 9 month old
      • Afraid of strangers
      • Understands “no” 
      • Likes to play peek-a-boo
      • Uses a pincher grasp (using thumb and forefinger to grab things) 
      • Makes lots of sounds may start saying mamamama  and dadadada
      • Stands while holding things
      • Crawls (may look different than traditional crawling) 
    • 1 year old 
      • Shy of Strangers 
      • Has favorite toys 
      • Cries when a parent leaves 
      • Responds to simple request
      • Waves bye-bye 
      • Says mama or dada 
      • Tries to copy words you say
      • Looks at a picture when you say the word (looks at a picture of a ball when you say ball) 
      • Bangs things together
      • Pokes thing with finger 
      • Pulls themselves up to standing 
      • Starts cruising 
    • 18 months old
      • May start having tantrums 
      • Plays pretend 
      • Becomes clingy in new situations
      • Says several words
      • Says no and shakes their head 
      • Points to things 
      • Understands what household items are for
      • Pretends to feed dolls or stuffed animals 

    Stage 2: Toddler Development (18 Months – 3 Years)

    Toddlers are inquisitive and developing brain cells at the fastest pace of their life. Toddlers make huge jumps from barely talking to having full sentences and elaborate imaginative games.  Here is what to expect with milestones with your toddler

    • 18 months old
      • May start having tantrums 
      • Plays pretend 
      • Becomes clingy in new situations
      • Says several words
      • Says no and shakes their head 
      • Points to things 
      • Understands what household items are for
      • Pretends to feed dolls or stuffed animals 
    • 2-year-olds
      • Copies other people 
      • Gets excited to be with other children
      • Maybe more defiant 
      • Says 2-4 word sentences 
      • Repeats words 
      • Begins to sort shapes and colors 
      • Can complete rhymes, may memorize lines in their favorite book
      • Can follow a two-step direction 
      • Builds a tower of 4 or more blocks
      • Can kick a ball
      • Walks up and down stairs 
      • Throws a ball
    • 3-year-olds 
      • Shows affection for siblings or friends 
      • Takes turns 
      • Shows concern for someone crying
      • Doesn’t have separation issues with parents
      • Understands location words like “in” and “on”
      • Plays pretend games with many types of toys
      • Does a 4 piece puzzle
      • Can turn doorknobs
      • Climbs easily 
      • Pedals a tricycle


    Stage 3: Preschooler Development At a glance(3 – 6 Years Old)

    Preschool is a time of wonder and imagination, children’s imagination blossoms and games but also cognitive ability grows to get ready for more traditional ideas of learning, like learning to read and do math. 

    • 3 year olds 
      • Shows affection for siblings or friends 
      • Takes turns 
      • Shows concern for someone crying
      • Doesn’t have separation issues with parents
      • Understands location words like “in” and “on”
      • Plays pretend games with many types of toys
      • Does a 4 piece puzzle
      • Can turn doorknobs
      • Climbs easily 
      • Pedals a tricycle
    • 4 year olds 
      • Enjoys trying new things 
      • Plays family 
      • Imaginative games become more complex
      • Cooperates with other children 
      • Sings a song from memory 
      • Tells stories
      • Can say full name
      • Begins to name colors and numbers 
      • Understands the idea of counting but may not count in the correct order 
      • Uses scissors 
      • Plays board games 
      • Can hop on one foot
      • Can catch a ball 
    • 5 year olds 
      • Likes to sing and dance 
      • Becoming even more independent 
      • Tells a story using sentences 
      • Speaks very clearly 
      • Can count 10 or more items
      • Prints some letters or numbers 
      • Draws shapes like a circle, square or triangle
      • Hops on one foot for more than 10 seconds 
      • Uses the potty by themselves 
      • USe a fork and spoon easily
      • Can do a somersault
    • 6 year olds 
      • Speaks in longer sentences (5-7 words) 
      • Start understanding jokes and puns, especially using words with double meanings
      • Begin to sound out words
      • Focus on a task for about 15 minutes 
      • Know times of day and understand things will happen later or happened in the past
      • Know day from night and left and right 

    Stage 4: School-Age Children Development (6 – 12 Years Old)

    School-age children seem to go from a babyish kindergartener to a sophisticated middle schooler who has big ideas and strong opinions.  These are some developmental milestones you can expect at each age 

    • 6 to 7  year olds 
      • Speaks in longer sentences (5-7 words) 
      • Start understanding jokes and puns, especially using words with double meanings
      • Begin to sound out words
      • Focus on a task for about 15 minutes 
      • Know times of day and understand things will happen later or happened in the past
      • Know day from night and left and right 
      • Practices to get better at things they like
      • Rides a bike 
      • Likes to paint and draw
    • 8 to 9 year olds 
      • Dresses, baths and does other self care tasks by themselves
      • Can use tools like a hammer or a screwdriver
      • Can take on more responsibilities 
      • Understand money
      • Can tell time 
      • Can name months of the year and days of the week in order
      • Read books on their own 
    • 10 to 12 year olds 
      • Start developing a sense of identity  (may try on many different identities during this discovery) 
      • Girls start early puberty along with an increase in emotions 
      • Begins to handle conflict better
      • Begins to question Authority 
      • Can struggle with friendship and feel excluded 
      • Have strong relationship with family
      • May sound more like an adult than a child in vocabulary and thoughts 
      • School subject matter becomes more complex 
      • Looking for people who listen to their ideas and take them serious 
      • Play looks more active like playing sports, riding bicycles, and skating 
      • Have attention spans that can be very long when working on things they enjoy 

    Stage 5: Adolescent Development – The Teen years(13 – 19 Years Old)

    During the teen years, not only do children’s bodies develop quickly, but their cognitive development moves into even more adult thinking. 

    • Early Adolescence 13-14 years old (also defined from 10-14 years old) 
      • Significant physical growth, multiple growth spurts 
      • Increase in sexual interest
      • They understand and start to think in abstract way
      • They start becoming very aware of morals
      •  Become concerned with appearance (looks, clothes, haircuts) 
      • More moody 
      • Peer group is more influential 
      • Pulling away from parents and family 
      • Increased stress about school or social life
      • Feelings can feel larger than life 
    • Middle Adolescence (15-17 years old)
      • All teens will have completed puberty by the end of this stage
      • Females will stop growing but males may continue to grow 
      • A strong sense of self is coming together
      • Start thinking about and making long term life plans
      • Increased drive for ind
      • Independence 
      • Less conflict at home
      • Strong concern about body image 
      • Spend less time with parents and more time with friends 
      • Learn work habits 
    • Late Adolescence (18-19 years old)
      • Brains start to finish developing the frontal lobe 
      • Think rationally about ideas 
      • Firm sense of identity  and plans for the future
      • More acceptance of physical appearance 
      • Has a clear sexual identity 
      • Start thinking about serious relationships and future long term partners
      • Has serious intimate relationships 
      • Philosophical and idealistic 
      • Relationship with parents is reestablished 
      • Has a small group of friends with strong bonds

    Get the ages and stages of child development chart here

    I made these handy reference guides for you to keep track of your child’s milestones, Use them to talk to your peditrician about any concerns or just stay on top of what milestones are on the horizon for your child. 

    What are examples of developmental delays?

    If your child is not reaching their milestones you should bring it up to their peditrician. Your child may have a developmental delay. 

    There are many types of development delays that could be affecting your child. 

    Some developmental delays include: 

    1. Cognitive Delays-These usually do not become apparent until after the child begins school. This could be from a brain injury due to illness or accident. Shaken baby syndrome and seizure disorders can also cause this type of delay. 
    1. Motor Delays- These delays could gross motor skills of the large muscle groups, like arms and legs. Fine motor skills could also be affected which affect the hands and fingers and can cause issues with writing, tying shoes and even brushing their teeth.  Motor delays can be caused by genetic physical conditions but they can also be caused by underdeveloped areas of the brain. 
    1. Speech Delays- Speech delays come in two areas, receptive and expressive speech delay. Receptive delay is when the child struggles with understanding words and concepts. Expressive delays are when a child struggles with verbal speech, including decreased vocabulary or even no speech.  Speech delays can be caused by weak muscles in the mouth, brain damage, genetic syndromes, hearing loss and even a lack of stimulation. 
    1. Social, Emotional and Behavioral Delays- These delays can be caused by disorders such as autism spectrum disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.  This may look like understanding social cues, making friends, playing with other children, extended tantrums or meltdowns, 

    Can a child with developmental delays catch up?

    If your child is behind now on their developmental milestones, they can still catch up. Developmental delays are not set in stone and for many children the right interventions and supportive parents and caregivers can mean that they can catch up to their peers.  

    How can I help my child with developmental delay?

    If you are concerned with your child’s milestones not being reached, ask your child’s doctor to do a developmental screening on them.  

    If your child is diagnosed with a developmental delay you can help your child by getting them all the interventions they need. Sometimes that means advocating for your child even when their doctor, therapist or teachers are not doing everything you think they should be doing. 

    The next step is finding a support group for families going through the same challenges. It is always nice to have someone in the trenches with you when you are struggling and you can also look for families who are further along with their child’s diagnosis for wisdom. 

    Now you get to become the expert on your child’s delays and how it affects them. Reading not only blogs but also research articles and talking to experts can all help you learn a lot about your child’s delay.  

    Lastly remember that your child is still the same child they were before they were diagnosed with a delay. Now they have a label that can get them the interventions and resources to live up to their potential. 

    What happens in a developmental screening?

    Most doctors do routine developmental monitoring and screening during well child checks. Typically you get a questionnaire about your child and your doctor does a quick test on them to make sure they are developing on schedule.  

    If your child is showing any red flags or you have serious concerns, your doctor will refer your child to a specialist who does more specific testing around the area your child is showing a delay. 

    Remember this is not a judgement on your parenting and is not reflection on how much you love or care for your child. It is simply finding out if your child needs interventions to help them to get back on track and have the successful life they deserve. 

    Keep in mind that every child develops at their own pace and as long they are meeting milestones within 2-4 months of the predicted age range then they are most likely on track!

    Interested in getting your little one to play independently?

    Check out my Purposeful Playspace e-course to learn how to create a space for your children that invites them to playin ways that are more engaging, purposeful and independent.

    Want more information about how play impacts your child’s development?

    Check out my e-book: Simply Play: Everything You Need To Know About The Most Important Part of Childhood

    Love this post? Check out some of the articles below.

    What are the stages of play? Jean Piaget’s Theory of Play!

    How can a theory published in 1936 still help you to understand your children and how to encourage them through their cognitive development?  While Jean Piaget’s Theory of Play is closing in on its hundred-year anniversary it is still used in education and psychology to understand the stages of children’s development.  And I can help…

    What are the ages and stages of child development? (Bonus chart!)

    Get the ages and stages development chart here!! During the first 3 years of life babies and toddlers are making 1-2 million neural connections a minute.  Mind blown! During those years they go through massive growth and hit multiple milestones a month.   But what milestones should your baby be meeting at every age?  Understanding the…

    Are Pikler triangles worth it? abso-freakin-lutely

    Are Pikler triangles worth it? abso-freakin-lutely So what is this magic triangle that seems to be in every playroom on Instagram?  It’s a Pikler triangle and there are some great reasons why so many moms are falling in love with them.   You may be wondering if Pikler triangles are worth it? And I say abso-freakin-lutely. …

    Episode 5: The Psychological Importance of Play + How to Recover from Helicopter Parenting

    On this episode of Play. Learn. Thrive., clinical psychologist Sarah Mundy shares with Alanna insights about the importance of play in the development of confident, self-motivated, independent kids. In addition to being a core element of emotional and intellectual growth, play has been recognized internationally as a fundamental right of children. Sarah highlights clinical experience…

    Risky Play: What Parents NEED to Know

    Risky Play Children have an innate need for risk-taking. In addition, children who are encouraged to take risks at a younger age are able to better manage risk once they have gained more independence. A lack of ample opportunity to take risks may increase fear and inappropriate aggression, as well as limit the ability to…

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  • Risky Play: What Parents NEED to Know

    Risky Play

    Children have an innate need for risk-taking. In addition, children who are encouraged to take risks at a younger age are able to better manage risk once they have gained more independence. A lack of ample opportunity to take risks may increase fear and inappropriate aggression, as well as limit the ability to cope with stress. All of this translates into an increase in physical and mental health issues, particularly in children.

    What is Risky Play?

    To begin, risky play isn’t synonymous with dangerous play. For many adults, risky play is what we became accustomed to as young people. This was before fear became an all too present element in parenting.

    Remember riding your bike alone or exploring the creek in the neighborhood park? These are normal, everyday activities that children should experience. Today, however, children are experiencing risky play less and less often.

    Some ways you may see kids engaging in risky play are:

    • playing at heights
    • running at high speeds
    • using things in ways that aren’t intended (climbing the couch, going up the slide instead of down)
    • rolling down hills
    • climbing rocks
    • walking on anything that requires balance
    • spinning in circles
    • jumping off anything and everything

    In addition, risky play is often unstructured. This means that the child is free from direct adult supervision. Of course, if you have a young child engaging in risky play, you may still be at the park or in the home nearby, but you are letting them climb, explore, and build without fear or retribution. Risky, unstructured play gives the child a chance to explore, imagine, and self-regulate in a way that structured, adult-initiated play does not.

    Although risky play can happen indoors, so much of positive risky play happens outdoors. In a world dominated by screen time and personal devices, I am a huge advocate of getting our kids outside to experience nature! Rain, snow, or sunshine, outdoor play with risky elements helps children engage in imaginative exploration.

    Research on Risky Play

    Dr. Peter Gray writes in his book Free to Learn, “Over the past 60 years we have witnessed, in our culture, a continuous, gradual, but ultimately dramatic decline in children’s opportunities to play freely, without adult control, and especially in their opportunities to play in risky ways. Over the same 60 years we have also witnessed a continuous, gradual, but ultimately dramatic increase in all sorts of childhood mental disorders, especially emotional disorders.”

    Gray’s findings come from the study of a school, Sudbury Valley, that focuses on the philosophy of student ownership and community responsibility of learning. Ultimately, the students design their own learning path. Grade levels and formal courses are not part of the Sudbury way. In fact, risky play and exploration is encouraged. Gray sees the result as students that are more resilient, independent, and able to navigate the world after their school years.

    Parental (Over)-Involvement

    Today, parents are often seen hovering over kids at the playground, or even worse, following them up into the playground equipment. Parents aren’t necessarily doing this to play with their child but to make sure they don’t fall or get minor bumps and bruises. “Helicopter parenting” isn’t necessarily new, but it seems like it’s becoming the norm rather than the exception. This also means many children aren’t scaling rocks and climbing trees anymore. They aren’t jumping from heights that are just a little too high. Our kids aren’t taking risks!

    Funny enough, injuries haven’t decreased. In fact, it’s been quite the opposite. Why? Children are not testing their bodies enough. They are more likely to get hurt because they are grossly unaware of their physical limits.

    We need to shift our mindset. These are things we should be encouraging our kids to do. Take a breath, step away from the top of the slide, and let them take healthy and age-appropriate risks. As Gray states in his 2014 Psychology Today article, “Play, to be safe, must be free play, not coerced, managed, or pushed by adults.”

    Benefits of Risky Play

    When children are allowed to engage in risky play, it gives them a chance to expand their imagination. For example, building a fort out of couch cushions and furniture that a child may climb over and under can open a world of story-telling, building, and all-over imaginative play!

    The power of play itself simply can’t be disputed. Play is the basis for how young children learn. By encouraging risky, unstructured play, children develop physical and mental skills that build imagination, resilience, and physical endurance.

    Gray also states that risky play allows children to experience a healthy sense of fear. When adults do not allow kids to engage in risky play, they are unable to experience self-regulation and understand what their limits are.

    Besides just being plain fun, risky play gives young people a chance to build resilience, fear, strength (in spirit and physicality), and experience a world of imagination. It’s time for adults to remember what it was like to be young again when risky play was a normal part of our everyday lives! Let your kids play, set some appropriate boundaries, of course, but let go a little bit to let them experience risky play.

    Interested in getting your little one to play independently?

    Check out my Purposeful Playspace e-course to learn how to create a space for your children that invites them to playin ways that are more engaging, purposeful and independent.

    Want more information about how play impacts your child’s development?

    Check out my e-book: Simply Play: Everything You Need To Know About The Most Important Part of Childhood

    Love this post? Check out some of the articles below.

    What are the stages of play? Jean Piaget’s Theory of Play!

    How can a theory published in 1936 still help you to understand your children and how to encourage them through their cognitive development?  While Jean Piaget’s Theory of Play is closing in on its hundred-year anniversary it is still used in education and psychology to understand the stages of children’s development.  And I can help…

    What are the ages and stages of child development? (Bonus chart!)

    Get the ages and stages development chart here!! During the first 3 years of life babies and toddlers are making 1-2 million neural connections a minute.  Mind blown! During those years they go through massive growth and hit multiple milestones a month.   But what milestones should your baby be meeting at every age?  Understanding the…

    Are Pikler triangles worth it? abso-freakin-lutely

    Are Pikler triangles worth it? abso-freakin-lutely So what is this magic triangle that seems to be in every playroom on Instagram?  It’s a Pikler triangle and there are some great reasons why so many moms are falling in love with them.   You may be wondering if Pikler triangles are worth it? And I say abso-freakin-lutely. …

    Episode 5: The Psychological Importance of Play + How to Recover from Helicopter Parenting

    On this episode of Play. Learn. Thrive., clinical psychologist Sarah Mundy shares with Alanna insights about the importance of play in the development of confident, self-motivated, independent kids. In addition to being a core element of emotional and intellectual growth, play has been recognized internationally as a fundamental right of children. Sarah highlights clinical experience…

    Risky Play: What Parents NEED to Know

    Risky Play Children have an innate need for risk-taking. In addition, children who are encouraged to take risks at a younger age are able to better manage risk once they have gained more independence. A lack of ample opportunity to take risks may increase fear and inappropriate aggression, as well as limit the ability to…

    Read More

  • How to effectively teach a child to entertain themselves

    How to teach play skills & What to do when a child can’t entertain themselves

    One of the reasons children struggle to entertain themselves is because they don’t have the play skills they need. Play is not just a way for your child to have fun, but it is how children integrate ideas and concepts into their minds. Playing is the work of childhood. 

    Can you give a child too much attention?

    There is no such thing as too much affection or care, but solving all your child’s problems and ensuring they are never bored can cause more harm than good. 

    Your child needs opportunities to overcome their struggles on their own. One of the hardest things you can do is watch your child struggle with something and not jump in and solve it. Particularly if you are used to helping your child with everything. 

    While you shouldn’t just sit back and let your child struggle to the point of tears, allow them to try their ideas. 

    At first, they may expect you to solve their problems for them.  This problem can be solved by pretending to be equally stumped by the task and asking for ideas.

     At what age should a child be able to entertain themselves?

    Even at 6 months old, children are capable of entertaining themselves, but it is for periods of 5 minutes or so. As children grow so does their ability to entertain themselves as long as they are given opportunities for solo play. 

    Toddlers who have always been given the opportunity to play solo can entertain themselves for upwards of 30 minutes. 

    But that comes with practice. If your child is used to you playing with them all the time, start slowly by just being in the same room or sitting quietly by them while they play. 

    Is it okay for a child to play alone?

    You can let your child play alone without feeling guilty. Solo play helps them develop independence and problem-solving skills. 

    While they are playing alone, that doesn’t mean they have to be in a completely separate room from you. You can still share the space while they play.

    How to let go of the Mom guilt!

    Mom guilt is a very real feeling. But there is nothing wrong with letting your child play independently. 

    You are not neglecting them, you are allowing them to do what children across history have done, play independently. 

    Think of all the benefits you are giving your child by allowing them to play solo. They will know how to be independent thinkers who can work through problems.  

    It also helps them develop a sense of self, which can help them choose to make the right choices when everyone else is making wrong ones because they aren’t afraid to do their own thing. 

    We have painted this world where a mother has to be all the things, she needs to be a good and loving wife, a hard, dedicated worker, a loving and devoted mother. And somewhere along the way, we have started equating a good mother with a child who is never bored and is always happy and entertained.  It is just not realistic.  

    Remind yourself of the benefits of solo play and that you are a loving, caring mother who is always trying to make the best decision to let your child grow into a strong, independent, caring individual. There is not a single reason to have a shred of mom guilt about your child playing by themselves. 

    How do you teach a child to entertain themselves? Introduce Independent Play!

    So what is the magic formula that gets a child from needing your eyes and approval on every minute of their day to a child who can entertain themselves while you do what you need to do? Time, patience, and independent play. 

    Why is my child always bored?

    A child can be surrounded by things to entertain them and still be saying they are bored. Why is that? 

    For parents, we look around and think “You have a million things to play with, how can you be bored?” 

    We need to understand what a child means when they are saying they are bored.  

    Sometimes a child is saying they are bored because they need more activity and physical movement. Taking some time for them to play outside or go on a walk can instantly cure that boredom. 

    For other kids, they are seeking a sense of connection. If you have been extra busy, they may just be asking to spend some time with you. 

    But most often, the reality is most kids today haven’t had to deal with boredom. Children don’t have that often to just be alone with their thoughts and come up with ideas on their own. 

    Between schedules that are overflowing with playdates and activities and classes and the abundance of screens and screen time, kids just haven’t had the practice at being bored. 

    Being bored can be uncomfortable but learning how to overcome boredom and do something constructive and active with their time can lead to better focus and longer attention span.

    Why free play is important?

    Free play is essential for not only a child’s cognitive development but also their physical development. 

    Remember how I said that play is the work of childhood?  Play is how children practice things they have learned academically, socially, and physically. 

    Children learn to problem-solve when they come to an obstacle during solo play and have to figure out the solution on their own. 

    They also learn risk management skills through free play. For example, at a playground, there are some stepping stones, but they are spread pretty far apart. Your child stands there pretending the ground is lava, can she stretch her leg far enough to reach this stone or should she jump to that stone. 

    Is she in any actual danger? No. 

    But her brain is learning to calculate which choice is riskier.  That turns into her being able to critically think about a situation as a teen and make a mental calculation of what the best choice is. 

    The more times she gets to practice this kind of risk management with free play, the better she will be at making decisions through life. 

    Free play is an extremely important part of a child’s cognitive development. 

    Provide The CORRECT Toys for Self-Entertainment

    Another important part of introducing self-entertainment is the child having the correct kinds of toys that lend to more active play and less passive play. 

    So how can you tell what the correct toy is? The more simple the toy, the more active the play. 

    A simple set of Lego bricks or Duplo bricks means that a majority of the entertainment value comes from within the child. With their imagination and hard work, a child can take a box of Legos and create a 4 story hospital with multiple rooms, or a fantastical machine that your child tells you turns vegetables into ice cream. 

    Whereas electronic toys, your child is more passive with the play. They don’t have to imagine things for the toy to say, because it can talk for itself. The toy is entertaining the child, not the child entertaining himself. They don’t have to think too much or even use their imagination with the toy. 

    The fewer the toys, the better

    Have you ever looked around your child’s room when they say they are bored and wonder how they can possibly be bored surrounded by all these toys? 

    Too many choices can lead to decision fatigue and your child just shutting down. The choices are overwhelming and stressful. 

    And I understand, every holiday and birthday brings an onslaught of new toys from loving friends and relatives that mean well.  

    I am not saying you have to give all your child’s toys away and leave them with just sticks and rocks. What I am saying is to decide whether you want to pair down their toys or you want to create a toy rotation. 

    We have done a toy rotation in the past. I put a majority of my kids’ toys in boxes and stored them away, leaving several options for them to play with but not an overwhelming amount. 

    An unintended side effect of this was my children having fewer toys to play with meant their play areas were really easy to clean up.   

    At regular intervals, I would bring out a box of toys I had stored and have my kids go “toy shopping.”  And all those old toys that they had been bored with, were like brand new toys. And the toys they had been playing with could go up until the next toy shopping time. 

    It also allowed me to go through the toys that were stored away and pair them down without my children getting upset. 

    Benefits of Solo Play: Once you go Independent play you never go back

    Not only does solo play give parents a break, but it hosts a long list of benefits for children too. 

    Some benefits of solo play are: 

    • Emotional Regulation as children have time to decompress
    • Independence
    • Self-Confidence
    • Improved Problem Solving Skills 
    • Improved Risk Management 
    • Helps them integrate things they are learning about 
    • Learn healthy ways to deal with boredom

    What is Independent play exactly?

    Independent play is when your child has time to play by themselves. It can include time for them to make art, build with legos or play with their toys.  

    Screen time isn’t independent playtime because the entertainment value is not coming from within the child like it does when they play with legos, make art and play with their toys. It doesn’t build the same skill set. 

    How does independent play benefit a child?

    Independent play benefits many areas of a child’s development.  Children learn to decompress and have time to recuperate from all the stimulation that the world has to offer.  They can do this by exploring their space at their own pace and make choices on what to do or play with by themselves.

    When children play alone they start to develop a sense of independence. They learn that they can do things on their own and grow in their self-confidence as they solve their problems.  They start becoming more self-reliant.  

    While they are playing, they start learning how to take educated risks by trying things. 

    They are also learning healthy ways to deal with boredom that aren’t endless screens.  

    What Independent play means for the parent and how it can help relieve stress

    Independent play also helps parents and can lower the overall stress of the family.  Often parents worry about if their child is learning enough and if they are socialized enough, leading to over-packed schedules and overstressed parents. 

    Once your child learns how to play independently, there is less pressure on parents to entertain their child 24/7 and the parents start getting more breaks and downtime for themselves.  

    When you need to do something that you cannot give your child your full attention, they can play on their own.  It’s life-changing.

    What are open-ended toys and why they’re all you need!

    Open-ended toys are toys that do not have a defined way to play with them. Your child can play in many different ways with the same toy.  Open-end toys are not electronic and are usually made of sustainable materials like wood, bamboo, and cotton, but they don’t have to be. You can start with what you have and add things over time. 

    Open-ended toys and activities for infants

    Mushie Stacking Cups: These are hands down have been all of my kids’ favorite toys as babies.  They first discovered them at a grandparent’s house and I wound up ordering a set before we even left. 

    My kids have stacked them inside of one another but soon found out they could make towers and walls with them by turning them upside down.  Because I loved how portable and entertaining they are,  I purchased a set for our diaper bag and a set for home. 

    The Haba Rainmaker is my magic wand to soothe cranky babies. Every time I have pulled it out with a fussy baby, they settle down and their eyes watch in amazement as the balls race down. 

    The Haba Rainbow Fabric Ball is another great option. It’s so soft and the wedge shape to the petals of the ball makes it so easy for even young babies to try to grasp.   

    You can find all my favorite open-ended toys for infants in this gift guide. 

    Open-ended toys and activities for Toddlers & Preschoolers

    Clicques Rainbow Dolls-  I love these brightly colored peg style dolls. My kids love playing with these so much sometimes for little families in a dollhouse, superheroes, students in the pretend mini school my kids run, and even monster truck drivers. 

    Silks- these gorgeous colored silks are perfect for all kinds of play and my elementary age kids play with these just as much.  My littles use them for baby blankets, headscarves to play grandmas, and to show off their magic reveals. My older kids use these almost like dancer ribbons most often but sometimes they help build forts or pretend slings for fake injuries. 

     WAYTOPLAY Roadways are these super cool flexible roads that can be made in many different configurations, and a must-have if you have a little gearhead in your house that can’t get enough cars and monster trucks. 

    For my full list of Open-ended toys for toddlers and preschoolers then check out this gift guide of all my tried and true toys. 

    Open-ended toys and activities for elementary-aged children

    Magnatile- By far the most popular toy with elementary-aged kids is Magnatiles and Magnetic blocks. Hours can be spent building 3 shapes and rooms. And to be completely honest the first time I saw magnatiles I couldn’t quit playing with them, my kids had moved on to playing tea time, and I was still building the best castle ever.  Magnatiles are so much fun and now you can find magnetic blocks and even magnetic wooden dolls like the Clicques. 

    Wobbel Balance Board- this one has so many benefits and is so fun and challenging. Not only is this great for gross motor skill development, but I have seen it turned into a car bridge, a tunnel, and even a seesaw. 

    Wooden Instruments- If you don’t mind a little noise, this set of wooden instruments has such great variety that every time your kid explores this set, they will find new ways to make music. 

    Things to avoid when teaching your child to play by themselves

    Teaching your children to play independently is possibly going to be more difficult on you than it is on them. 

    As parents, it’s easy to see ourselves as our child’s savior, and letting our children struggle can feel unnatural and even stressful for us.  

    The 3 things you want to avoid while teaching your child to play by themselves are don’t interrupt them, don’t rescue them, and don’t hover over them. 

    Don’t interrupt them

    Don’t interrupt your child as they work through starting to play independently. 

    I found it hardest to not interrupt when I saw my toddler trying something that I didn’t think would work.  Trial and error is part of them playing independently. 

    Just take a few deep breaths when you want to interrupt and remind yourself that they are having fun and do not need help or advice. 

    Don’t jump to action every time they ask 

    Our little loves are so used to saying “Mommy help me!” that when they start playing independently, they will probably say it a lot. You can be caring and still encourage them to figure it out themselves. 

    Things to say when your child asks for help: 

    • In what way have you tried to do this? 
    • What do you think? 
    • Oh, I don’t know, can you help me figure it out? 
    • Okay, I will help you in a few minutes, as soon as I go do this. (Most of the time they will figure it out before you get back) 

    Watch from afar, don’t get in the way!

    Putting some distance between you and your little one makes it easier for them to focus on playing and will make it easier for you to let them explore.  You can stay in the same room or you can go to an adjacent room. 

    Don’t feel guilty, you can always peek in on them without drawing their attention. 

    Note: Screentime doesn’t count as solo play…

    Just a reminder that screen time is not the same as independent solo play because screen time does not allow your child to build the skills independent play does.  You can check out my in-depth article about screen time here. 

    The Bottom Line: You are not responsible for keeping your child entertained. You can effectively teach your child to entertain themselves and create a happier, healthier home.

    Let go of the mom guilt that says you must keep your child entertained at all times. You can provide your child a safe place to explore and play independently that helps them to grow in their physical skills and cognitive skills.   And that independent play can lead to a less stressful home and a much happier family. 

    Interested in getting your little one to play independently?

    Check out my Purposeful Playspace e-course to learn how to create a space for your children that invites them to playin ways that are more engaging, purposeful and independent.

    Want more information about how play impacts your child’s development?

    Check out my e-book: Simply Play: Everything You Need To Know About The Most Important Part of Childhood

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  • Q: when to introduce your child to a smartphone or tablet? A: NEVER!

    With technology becoming more and more a part of everyday life, it may seem like a good choice to introduce your child to technology early. But studies show that early smartphone usage can lead to technology addiction and other problematic behavior.  

    How technology influences a child’s behavior and development

    Technology can adversely affect a child’s development. Not only can early introduction lead to technology addiction, but it shows no actual benefit to any early educational improvement over traditional learning in face to face methods. 

    According to Piaget’s theory on education, children should learn by interacting with the world around them. Smartphone usage limits their time to do that. With already packed schedules of families today, play and exploring time is already very limited. 

    Things to ask yourself before you go out and buy a smartphone or Tablet

    A study showed that 25% of toddlers or preschoolers have a smart device, either a tablet or a smartphone.  To me that statistic was alarming.   

    Children under preschool do not need a tablet. And you should be asking yourself some serious questions before making a purchase of a  tablet or smartphone for a child. 

    Are you buying a tablet just to entertain your child?

    It is very tempting to hand your child a tablet so that you can buy some quiet and get something done, but what are the costs of this to your child’s development. 

    Children who are always entertained, never learn to sustain themselves through periods of boredom to develop grit and persistence.  

    Who is benefiting from the tablet or smartphone?

    The parent is the person who benefits the most from giving a child a device. The parent is getting some quiet, more contained behavior while they attend to something they need to attend to. 

     At older ages, children could benefit some from learning how the technology works, but for very young children there is very little to no benefit from using smart devices. 

    Does your child really NEED IT? 

    Most likely your child doesn’t need a device for themselves. The better policy is to have a shared family device that can be regularly checked by the parent for correct usage and what content the child is watching. 

    Most experts agree that children under the age of preschool do not need any technology, especially tablets or smartphones. After preschool, very limited use is more (INSERT APPROPRIATE WORD). 

    No your child does not need a smartphone or tablet. If any tablet or smartphone is bought it should be a shared use device that the parents retain the majority of the control of. 

    What to get instead of a smartphone or tablet for growth and development

    Children should be learning through interacting with their world. Playing with open ended toys and having time to explore outdoors. 

    Instead of a tablet to spark creativity, art supplies that are accessible to your child whenever creativity strikes are a perfect alternative. 

    Spatial intelligence can be learned playing with Legos, wooden blocks and magnet blocks. 

    If you want a full list of toys that actually help your toddlers’ and preschoolers’ development you can see my full post here

    The Negative Effects of Tablets and SmartPhones

    There are many negative consequences of giving a child a smartphone or tablet. Some of these negative effects include: 

    • Hinders growth and development 
    • Hinders use of imagination and problem solving skills
    • Promotes Isolation and Addiction
    • Negative Parent/Child Relationship

    It affects their growth and development hindering them

    When children are spending time looking at screens they are missing time that they could be spending playing and developing their gross and fine motor skills, which are crucial for development.

    Children who miss out on developing their fine motor skills, struggle to learn to write, cut with scissors, or even hold a pencil or crayon correctly.  

    Gross motor skill issues can cause lack of coordination, becoming more accident prone. 

    Play, especially outdoor play, helps kids develop risk assessment and risk management skills.

    Tablets don’t encourage children to use their imagination or problem-solving skills

    When kids spend time playing games or more likely watching videos on a tablet, they are not using their imagination or problem-solving skills. 

    Alternatively children who are playing and have the opportunity to overcome their boredom are more likely to be better problem-solvers because using your imagination as a child helps you to develop out of the box thinking and problem solving skills. 

    It promotes isolation and addiction

    Kids who get tablets and smartphones early are more likely to develop an addicted relationship with devices. In young children reward centers in the brain are being wired, and with the instant gratification of devices it creates this addictive relationship with needing the dopamine produced by being entertained by screens. 

    Years ago the only screen in the home was the TV, often in the family room. Watching movies and TV shows together was a family bonding activity. Now with everyone in a family having their own smart devices, everyone can go to their own areas and consume entertainment in isolation. 

    Less screens in the home does give families more opportunities to be connected to each other. 

    It has a negative effect on the child/parent relationship.

    With the isolation comes strained relationships between parent and child. Parents are less likely to know what their child is interested in when the child has unlimited screen time. 

    And conversely, parents being online more and more means parents are less likely to be attuned to their children. While parents today have more time with their children than past generations, parents being online more often means technology is creeping in and stealing away the hours away from families. 

    But parents aren’t the only ones who are distracted by phones, children of younger and younger ages are more often to have access to tablets and smartphones. In years past, a child would often be watching and learning as their parent’s prepared meals or did chores around the house.  Children are missing out on these essential learning times because of screens. 

    The Positive Effects of Open-Ended Toys & Independent play

    The solution to the technology encroaching on children’s developmental skills is independent, open-ended play. 

    Play Promotes Social Emotional Intelligence 

    An important part of play is promoting social emotional intelligence.  Play helps a child learn how to set rules and when to change those rules. 

    Open-ended play also helps them to play with social ideas, such as playing house, dolls, and even playing at careers. When children engage in this kind of play they start understanding how rules and social norms change from one place to another.  They also start playing with the idea of how people interact in their world. 

    Independent Play and Motor Skills 

    When children are playing, whether that is playing chase or sitting down to assemble a block tower they are working on their motor skills. 

    Fine motor skills are the motor skills of the hands. Small play like using scoops, tweezers and picking up and stacking blocks all help to develop these skills. Playdough is another great tool for developing these skills, building the muscles of the hands. 

    Gross motor skills are more of the bodily motor skills. Knowing where your body is in space and in relation to itself is a part of this. That is to say when you close your eyes you can still put a spoonful of cereal in your mouth with very little difficulty. Your brain without visual cues knows where all it’s parts are.  Gross motor skills help reduce clumsiness. Big movement play like jumping, running, crawling and climbing all help strengthen these skills. 

    Open-Ended Toys Help Problem-Solving and Imagination 

    When children are given open-ended toys that they can play with in any way they see fit, it helps their brains to develop problem solving skills and improves their imagination. 

    When children are playing with things like blocks, toy road ways and peg dolls they have to think about how to best make what is in their mind come to life. Whether that is building a large tower or making a little city with their roadways, children have to work hard to think about the situation and think about multiple options to overcome obstacles. 

    If you watch a child over time building with blocks, which is a must have toy in every play room, their level of frustration will improve. At first the smallest set back will make them want to quit, but over time their ability to push through frustration will grow and grow.  This perseverance is something that is built with open ended play. 

    Technology and the classroom

    Technology is in every classroom, from tablets and computers and even virtual learning. Once children reach kindergarten or first grade they are expected to be able to navigate technology. 

    While we can petition our school districts and encourage our schools to implement more free play at younger ages and push the age of using technology back toward middle school, the reality is that students are going to be dealing with technology once they reach school age. 

    How much screen time should students spend on tablets and smartphones?

    In this article at Journalist Resource, they found studies that showed that children under the age of 5 who had two hours of screen time a day or more showed more behavior problems at 5 years old than their counterparts who had less screen time. 

    They also found that toddlers who use mobile devices daily were more likely to have a speech deficit at 18 months old. 

    The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that children between the ages of 2-5 get less than 1 hour of screen time a day, and for older children should have consistent limited screen time. Children under the age of 18 months old should not get screen time with the exception of video chatting with friends and family. 

    The priority should be children getting plenty of sleep, exercise and free time that doesn’t revolve around screens.  

    When is the best age to introduce a child to a smartphone or tablet?

    With technology being unavoidable in school and the world, we can’t keep our children from technology forever.  

    The best age to introduce a child to a smartphone or tablet should be after the child is in preschool around 4 years old. This gives your child time to learn how to navigate the technology. 

    Children of this age should only be accessing high quality content. 

    Learning games and education videos are the sorts of content that you should expose your child to. 

    Allowing them to learn to click, drag and navigate on different devices such as a computer, smartphone and tablet will give them the skills to succeed in school with technology. 

    Parents should monitor all technology usage. Children should not have access to technology on their own so that they can dive into areas of the internet and content that is inappropriate for them. 

    The Bottom Line: Introducing technology to a child has no benefit in early childhood for education or otherwise.

    Researchers have found that there is no benefit to introducing a young child to a screen before the age of preschool. 

    In fact, a number of studies have shown that screen time given to young children is detrimental to their health and development and promotes behavioral problems, focus problems and an increased risk of obesity. 

    The best toys for children’s growth and development are those that offer open-ended play and let them explore.  But with technology increasing in classrooms across the world, keeping children from technology isn’t always possible.   

    Parents should wait until preschool to introduce their children to smart devices like smartphones and tablets, and even then should limit the use to less than an hour a day in the same room as the parent. 

    Interested in getting your little one to play independently?

    Check out my Purposeful Playspace e-course to learn how to create a space for your children that invites them to playin ways that are more engaging, purposeful and independent.

    Want more information about how play impacts your child’s development?

    Check out my e-book: Simply Play: Everything You Need To Know About The Most Important Part of Childhood

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  • 7 Signs your Baby is Overstimulated & Unhappy

    You’ve tried everything to settle your baby but they are still fussy and cranky. It is frustrating for both of you. All you want is for them to calm down and be happy. So what is going on? 

    Your baby is likely overstimulated. Let’s talk about the signs your baby is overstimulated, the effects of overstimulation in infants, and how to soothe them once they are overwhelmed. 

    What Is Overstimulation in infants & How does it affect them?

    Overstimulation in babies occurs when the environment is too much for them to handle. Babies come from the warm, cozy, dark womb and are thrust into the bright, loud, and chaotic world. 

    What Causes Overstimulation in Infants?

    Sensory overload occurs when a person’s brain cannot cope with stimuli such as noises, activity, and light.  In infants, the threshold is much lower since all the sensations are new and the brain has to develop new pathways for everything. 

    Is It Possible to Overstimulate a Newborn?

    It’s absolutely possible for a newborn to become overstimulated. Most babies get overstimulated at one time or another.  In fact, you could actually be causing it without  even knowing. 

    First-time parents especially may be trying too hard to soothe their crying infants and make their overstimulation worse by accident.

    Why does my baby get overstimulated so easily?

    While adults and even children are used to the world around them, babies are less accustomed to everything around them.

    Bright lights, toys that make sounds and light up, smells from food and the environment, adults and children talking, TV in the background, feeling of clothes and their diaper and that is not even all the new sensory information like hunger, being cold or hot, and irritability.  The brain is working to create new connections and pathways, and it’s trying to figure out what’s important and what’s not. 

    While the brain learns to do this, all of those experiences that are happening at the same time, the brain gives equal weight to all of them. 

    That’s why babies get overstimulated more quickly than toddlers, children, or adults. As their brain develops, they will be able to handle more stimulation without becoming cranky. 

    7 Signs of Overstimulation in Infants & Newborns

    1. A general look of unease: Red in the face, trembling lips, wide eyes

    The first signs of overstimulation can look like general distress. Baby looks red, fusses, and generally seems unsettled. It can easily be confused for the baby being tired, hungry, or needing a diaper change.  

    If you miss this sign, your baby will continue to give you more clues to being overwhelmed, but overtime you can learn these cues and stop overwhelm before it becomes difficult to calm them down. 

    2. Frantically looking around in alarm

    If your baby is looking around like they are alarmed, they are most likely overstimulated.  This can also look like a baby looking away from whatever is overstimulate them, like a toy or even a parent. 

    3. Quickening of breath signaling a feeling of unease

    If you notice your baby making quick, shallow breaths, they may be overstimulated and overwhelmed. This can be anearly sign of overstimulation.

    4. Clenched Fist

    If your baby is getting upset and their hands are clenched tightly, overstimulation is the most likely culprit.  Alternatively, if the baby is putting his fist in his mouth, he is likely hungry. 

    5. Fast, jerky-like movements that signal alarm

    Babies have a reflex to throw their arms and legs out when they are startled. It’s called the Moro reflex. 

    But being overstimulated can also trigger this reflex. The reflex looks like jerky movements of the arms and legs. 

    6. Agitated Crying or Shrieking

    Sometimes you may miss the early indications that a baby is overstimulated, which can lead to angry and agitated crying or shrieking. This is the final stage of being overstimulated, but some babies may reach this stage more quickly than others. 

    7. Being Cranky or Tired

    If a baby is overstimulated, their body may go into a flight response and become cranky and tired. Their little brain knows that if they can go to sleep then they will eliminate the triggers that are causing them to be overstimulated. 

    Also, being overstimulated can be very exhausting for a baby. Even after they get settled down, they may feel sleepy. 

    How to soothe and calm an overstimulated baby

    • Remove them from the environment
    • Try going on a walk
    • Opt for Skin-to-Skin Contact in a quiet dark room
    • Offer them some alone time in a quiet, safe space
    • Swaddling the baby can be calming for the baby
    • Try swaying baby from side to side in your arms or a swing
    • Position baby where they can only see a blank wall
    • Use a shushing sound to help calm baby 
    • Try using baby massage to calm the baby

    Is it bad for a baby to become overstimulated?

    Although it is not always possible to keep a baby from becoming overstimulated, it is best to limit how often and how long a baby gets overstimulated.  

    Once a baby is overstimulated, their bodies start producing cortisol, a stress hormone. The reason this is significant is because cortisol takes some time to be released from the body once it is made. A high cortisol level in infancy can lead to long-term developmental difficulties. 

    This is why it is important to recognize the signs of overstimulation and learn how to soothe your baby after it occurs.   You should also give babies periods of rest between stimulation, such as playing with the baby, reading to the baby, or simply being in a loud environment. 

    What Causes Overstimulation in Infants?

    • Toys
    • TV
    • Loud noises
    • Strong smells
    • Bright Lights 
    • Loud talking or shouting
    • Overwhelming amount of sensations at the same time 
    • Not having their basic needs met quickly.  (Like ignoring hunger cues until the baby is crying)

    How to prevent overstimulating an infant?

    By balancing active time with quiet time, choosing toys with minimal stimulation, and choosing a sensory-friendly environment, you can prevent your baby from becoming overstimulated. 

    Balancing activity time and quiet time

    Playing with your baby, such as reading to them, singing to them, or even doing tasks like bathing and changing diapers, can be stimulating activities. 

    Make sure you give your baby a quiet, calming time between these activities so that they do not become overstimulated.  Swaddling and swaying are soothing activities that allow time to bond with your baby. 

    Being mindful of the toys you purchase

    When purchasing toys for your new baby, be mindful of how stimulating or overstimulating they might be.   

    Avoid buying toys that light up or make sounds.  Toys made of natural elements such as wood and cotton are better choices than plastic toys.  

    If you are looking for a good guide on what to buy a baby that will reduce overstimulation, check out The Ultimate Gift Guide for Babies 

    Setting up an environment that promotes calm

    Setting up your surroundings to promote calm can help keep your baby from becoming overstimulated. It can also become a great refuge for when your baby becomes overwhelmed. 

    Start by painting the room with light colors such as white, cream and pale colors. 

    Be mindful of the temperature of the room and be sure baby has warm swaddles to help ward off overstimulation.  

    Make sure that the lighting in the room is soft and not harsh. Use nightlights to help darken the room while leaving enough light for you to be able to see. 

    Consider a white noise machine or something as simple as a fan for the baby’s calming space. While most adults feel that silence is peaceful, babies are coming from the womb where it is actually quite noisy, so complete silence can be unnerving for them. 

    The bottom line: Infants get overstimulated easily but you can learn the signs and prepare for it. 

    In reality, babies can get overstimulated easily if there is too much sensory input. Sights, sounds, smells, even activity can be too much for their little brains to handle. 

    But you can prepare for overstimulation by learning the signs of overstimulation, how to sooth your baby when they are overstimulated and how to prevent overstimulation. 

    Interested in getting your little one to play independently?

    Check out my Purposeful Playspace e-course to learn how to create a space for your children that invites them to playin ways that are more engaging, purposeful and independent.

    Want more information about how play impacts your child’s development?

    Check out my e-book: Simply Play: Everything You Need To Know About The Most Important Part of Childhood

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    What are the stages of play? Jean Piaget’s Theory of Play!

    How can a theory published in 1936 still help you to understand your children and how to encourage them through their cognitive development?  While Jean Piaget’s Theory of Play is closing in on its hundred-year anniversary it is still used in education and psychology to understand the stages of children’s development.  And I can help…

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