Anyone who has a toddler, or knows a pre-schooler will be all-too familiar with it. Cars, cars and more cars – no toddler home is complete without a bucket full of Lightning McQueen’s, Matchbox racers, and Hot Wheels.
But, there’s more to zooming cars around a racetrack than meets the eye. Research shows that there may in fact be great benefit to children playing with cars. And yes, that includes at mealtimes too, whether it's pick plate snack ideas or your sunday roast.
What is Imaginative Play?
Imaginative play toys may have evolved over the years, but the idea behind it has not. Simply put, imaginative play is a form of make believe, which can use role-play.
Parents often see this sometime between 18 months and 24 months, when children start copying the world around them. For instance, they might imitate you being on the phone, or babble words you repeat to them.
Imaginative play may seem like entertainment, and it is. But don’t just write it off as playtime. There’s something far smarter at play here, so to speak. Which is why the importance of play has been stressed by experts in the industry who have studied its benefits.
Not convinced? Read on.
How do children learn through play?
Behind the zooms, vrooms and truck noises, kids are learning behaviours.
Child psychologist and Professor Jeffrey Goldstein from the University of Utrecht has studied the relationship at length.
In an article in the Daily Telegraph, he emphasises the importance of play, saying: “There is no other activity that develops their language, spatial awareness, social and communication skills and physical abilities in such a prolonged way.”
“This is thanks to all sorts of factors, such as the interaction that takes place when children play together, the creativity of make-believe, and the intellectual development that comes from learning the names of objects, and then imagining them to be something completely different.”
Rev-up your fine motor skills
There’s also another benefit in play – fine motor skills. This is the development of movements in our hands and wrists. Skills we later use in writing, art, sport and more.
So, when children are playing with toys – even with their favourite toddler plate at mealtimes, they are benefitting at the same time.
Professor Goldstein adds: “Pushing a toy car around is a good example of developing physical skills through play.”
Four tips for helping your child play
Play may come naturally to children, but as parents we’re always keen to find new ways to explore this. Try these five tips:
Benefits of creative play
Finally, it’s worth sharing the benefits of creative play, which includes playing with cars, as well as other toys.
Prof Goldstein and Harriet Castor, summarised it into three areas, as follows:
* Emotional – kids may become calmer and less anxious
* Social – play can teach kids empathy and compassion
* Physical – can help develop fine motor skills. There’s also a link between regular play and the development of a child’s IQ
If you’re looking at creative and fun ways to make dining fun, our toddler plates feature a built-in track. The Munchy Play Vroom-Vroom plate is especially ideal for children that love cars.