In the previous article, the role of play in a child’s development was discussed and established. A significant part of childhood play is the contribution material or equipment makes to the child. Due to its importance to play, the purchase of materials on their behalf need not be left to chance. The materials provided children must be selected with their well-being not something just to keep them busy or to please the Adult psyche. Materials are so vital to their development that consideration of their need is worth the time and thought before a purchase is made. Before making material purchases, it is recommended parents/caregivers consider a child’s:
• Developmental level
Once materials are purchased, parents/caregivers must teach children the correct use so they will play to their benefit and safety.
How children play will depend on the materials made available to them as well as how children learn to use it. Just giving a child something to play with is not enough. Children will go through a period of trial and error then come to their own decision as to how to manipulate it. Children will have more fun and benefit if he/she is given some direction as to how to use it. Teaching a child proper/beneficial use reduces the chances for injury.
Children are not alike in their needs and what interests her/him but there are certain types of play materials every child needs and enjoys (climbing, sitting, sliding, individual and group usage). An additional strategy parents/caregivers might consider is to purchase materials that would stimulate diverse forms of play. A mistake some parents/caregivers at times make is to purchase too many materials of one type and too little of another type. In the end, parents/caregivers are faced with unused materials and money spent in a wasteful manner. All of which can be avoided with careful consideration and planning.