Anyone who’s ever cared for a young child knows how much energy they have, and how challenging it can be to keep them entertained. But did you realize all that endless curiosity and exploration is the way children learn? Children’s curiosity and exploration about the world around them is present from birth, providing a multitude of opportunities for them to develop skills they’ll use their whole lives, and making their earliest experiences a vital foundation for later success.
As a trusted adult in a young child’s life, what can you do? Can the time you spend with young children help to ensure their healthy growth and development? And if so, how? You may be thinking that it would be so helpful if there were a quick way to find the answers to those questions. Even better would be having a manual that not only answers those questions but also provides simple, engaging activities to do with the children in your life. And it would be best if you knew the activities were not only fun for the kids, but full of opportunities for them to learn and build new skills, too. Well, good news- the Colorado Office of Early Childhood recently created the PLAYbook to do all that!
The PLAYbook is a 50-page resource chock-full of information and activities that anyone– including parents, older siblings, guardians, grandparents, babysitters, neighbors, and family friends – can use to playfully engage with children while supporting their growth and development. Beyond providing a list of ideas, the PLAYbook also contains information to help you learn how to build the child’s skills whenever or wherever you spend time together. Each section of the PLAYbook is organized by age, making it easy for you to quickly find the relevant information for your child’s stage of development. The PLAYbook also contains places where you can jot down quick observations or notes on whether the child enjoyed the activity or any reactions you may have had while sharing an experience with the child. What a great way to not only keep track of the activities that most appeal to the children in your life, but also to preserve memories of your time together!
Because caring for young children can be emotionally demanding work, the PLAYbook includes a section just for caregivers, too. In that section, you’ll find ideas for ways to take care of yourself, deal with stress and support your own well-being.
We all know that growth brings change and transition, but we sometimes forget that since young children grow and develop so rapidly during the earliest years of life, they naturally experience a lot of transition. Some children seem to sail through these transitions easily, while others need additional support when navigating change. No matter how the children in your life experience transition, the PLAYbook has ideas for ways you can support them and make times of change easier for everyone.
The PLAYbook is freely available to anyone caring for a young child. You can find it online in both English and Spanish. If you prefer a hard copy, check to see if your local public library currently has copies available. Find your local Colorado public library here, and while at the library, don’t forget to check out all the other great resources they have available for young children and their trusted adults, too!