Child-Centered Play

Understanding Child-Centered Play (also called Child-Directed Play)

It seems natural for adults to take the lead when they are around children because that’s often what’s needed to keep little ones safe and on-track, but it can build stronger bonds when you allow your child to make decisions during play.

Rather than telling your child what to do as they play, this technique asks that you rather copy their actions and behaviors and comment on what they are doing which reinforces their independence and helps them to learn.

You can expand on their ideas and improve their vocabulary at the same time. If they push their toy train in a circle, for example, you might comment: “The long, red train is going round and round in circles.” Your little one’s developing brain has now learned two describing words for the train (long, red) while also understanding the concept of a shape (round = circle) and practiced their motor skills by operating the train…all in a few seconds of play!

Learn more about child-centered play.

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