Early years love faces! Babies especially love the faces of their parents and caregivers, but they also enjoy seeing all types of faces whether they are in books, faces of friendly visitors, or you guessed it – in the mirror!
Mirrors are a great way to help early years explore. They may even reach out to touch the “baby” in the mirror. Eventually, they will learn they are seeing their own face and start to recognize their reflection.
While looking in the mirror with your early years, you can use this chance to help develop their vocabulary and understanding that they are an individual! Say the different parts of the face as you point to them on your face and their face and use teddy and dolls too.
A mirror is also a great way for early years to practice visual tracking. Make silly faces at baby in the mirror and see if they imitate you or make a different face back. Get siblings involved too for fun, bonding time! Use hats and dress up.
Using Mirrors in creative play as a base for play dough, painting, drawing and small world play offer plenty of opportunities to explore and investigate the environments, but also provide added interest to other traditional elements of play.
Dolls are some of the oldest toys that children have ever played with. Their earliest use was documented in Greece around 100 AD. There’s good reason for these toys to be so long lasting through human history. They are a representation of the child themselves, and allow for a child to gain a greater understanding of themselves as well as those around them.
While traditional gender roles dictate that dolls are a toy mainly for girls, playing with dolls can provide important growth for children, regardless of gender. Here’s how playing with dolls can help you child’s development:
Playing with dolls solidifies social skills that are gained in a child’s early developmental years. When children play house, they learn to communicate with one another kindly and cooperate. By taking care of a doll, they learn how to take care of one another.
By learning important social skills at an early age, children are learning responsibility as well. They learn how to take care of a doll by playing with it. Learning this skill can help children learn to care for their pets, or older siblings more readily understand how to care of their younger siblings.
Empathy & Compassion
Another important social skill that children learn when playing with dolls is how to process emotions such as empathy and compassion. Just like caring for their doll teaches responsibility, it teaches them to empathize with those around them and allows them to grow up into caring people.
Dramatic play, the kind of play that happens when children play with dolls, helps develop a child’s imagination as they encounter creative, imagined scenarios with their dolls and other children.
Playing with dolls as well as their friends, children run into new and unique situations for their games. Communicating between one another can strengthen their vocabulary by filling it with practical language. By communicating in this way with their friends, children gain insight into home routines that may be different from their own. In this way they discover the world around them.
Set the dolls and teddy out in play instruments, read to them, eat with them and share with them.
Giving children a puppet to engage with, act on behalf of, and talk to can do wonders for their confidence.
For many children who aren’t yet fully comfortable opening up with other children or teachers, a puppet can be a great middle-man. They can really explore ideas of role play with them, taking on new personalities, and sharing stories and ideas. For many reasons, a puppet can often feel more trustworthy than one of their peers.
There is a huge range of effects that puppetry can have on emotional development.
They’re able to use the puppets to rehearse strategies and ideas that they don’t feel ready to try out in the real world. They’ll follow storylines through and try out different endings to see how they work out. It’s a great way of exploring different types of interactions
They’re also brilliant for developing empathy. A puppet can have a wide range of emotions and children can learn how to deal with their own emotions by comforting the puppets. It can also teach them to recognise and support other children who might be having difficulty too.
Be aware of puppets as a non-judgemental figure for children. If a child is still developing how they share their feelings with others, sometimes it might feel easier to share them with a puppet than with a friend or teacher. You can learn a lot from these interactions.
Make sure that you go through a range of emotions with your own puppetry. It can help the children to recognise and empathise with those same emotions in other children as well as in themselves.
That’s why using puppets can be particularly effective – giving the children the ability to hide behind a puppet and express themselves through it can be a great way to get them to talk more regularly