Advice Column, Child


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From physical development to social and emotional growth, Affinity Health, a leading provider of high-quality healthcare, says there are many reasons why playtime matters in the early years of life.

Whether building towering block castles or teaming up with friends to save the world, playtime ignites the imagination, inspires learning, and unlocks the boundless potential of children, developing the skills and abilities they need to succeed in life.

Affinity Health takes a closer look at how playtime can benefit young children, providing parents with tips and guidance on how to facilitate age-appropriate playtime that supports their child’s growth and development.

Playtime Enhances Physical Development

  • Playtime is essential to physical development in young children. It allows them to develop fine and gross motor skills, coordination, balance, and spatial awareness.
  • Playtime can involve simple movements for babies, such as reaching for toys and rolling over, and more complex activities as children grow, involving running, jumping, climbing, and other physical activities.
  • Playtime Stimulates Social and Emotional Growth
  • Playtime is also essential for social and emotional growth in young children. It allows them to interact with others and learn social skills such as sharing, taking turns, and cooperating.
  • Through play, children can learn about their emotions, develop coping mechanisms to deal with them, develop their creativity and imagination, and explore their world in a safe and supportive environment.

Playtime Promotes Cognitive Development

  • Playtime is crucial for cognitive development in young children. It allows them to develop their language, communication, and problem-solving skills. 
  • Through play, children can learn about cause and effect, develop memory and concentration, and practice decision-making and critical thinking.
  • Playtime also allows children to explore their interests and develop their passions, laying the groundwork for lifelong learning.


6 Tips for Parents

Parents can play a crucial role in facilitating playtime for their children. Here are some tips for parents to remember:

  1. Provide a safe and supportive environment for play, with plenty of space and various toys and materials to explore.
  2. Offer structured and unstructured play opportunities, allowing children to develop their creativity and imagination while learning necessary social and cognitive skills.
  3. Encourage playtime with peers, providing opportunities for children to learn and practice social skills such as cooperation and communication.
  4. Get involved in playtime with your child, offering support and encouragement while allowing them to explore and learn independently.
  5. Encourage age-appropriate play, with challenging yet manageable activities for your child’s developmental stage.
  6. Use playtime to teach your child essential life skills, such as problem-solving, decision-making, and conflict resolution.


Games for Children to Play to Enhance Your Child’s Development

Here are some games and activities parents can encourage children to play, listed by age group:

Babies (infant to one year)

Tummy time: Place your baby on their stomach and encourage them to lift their head and look around.

Peek-a-boo: Cover and uncover your baby’s face with a blanket or cloth.

Singing and music: Sing songs and play music for your baby.


Toddlers (one to three years)

Building blocks: Encourage your child to build towers and structures with blocks.

Pretend play: Provide dress-up clothes and props for your child to use in pretend play.

Sorting games: Encourage your child to sort objects by size, colour, or shape.


Primary school (three to six years)

Board games: Play simple board games with your child to develop critical thinking and decision-making skills.

Art and craft activities: Provide materials for your child to draw, paint, and create.

Outdoor play: Urge your child to explore the outdoors and engage in physical activities such as running, jumping, and climbing.


Primary school (six to 12 years)

Team sports: Encourage your child to participate in team sports such as football, basketball, or soccer to develop social skills and physical abilities.

Strategy games: Play games like chess with your child to develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

Volunteering: Inspire your child to participate in community service or volunteer activities to develop empathy and compassion.

About Affinity Health

Affinity Health is South Africa’s leading health insurance provider, offering you a range of options at affordable rates, including access to the widest national provider network. We understand the importance of medical insurance that meets your needs, budget, and lifestyle. Our range of healthcare products are designed to protect you and your family when it matters the most. We strive to always give our clients peace of mind and the highest standard of service. For more information, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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