Child Development: Play

Originally printed in the pages of Simply Family Magazine’s April 2017 issue. Never miss an issue, check out SFM’s digital editions, here

by Hannah Luedt

Over the last year, The Art of Play (605 North 24th St W #1) has been providing the community with child development experiences. Owners Jessica Tuck and Jennifer Owen,  share positive stories about their first year in business.

First Year Surprises

The space itself triggers any imagination, but for children learning what imagination is, you never know what to expect! Jessica and Jennifer have had the opportunity to watch children develop their sense of play. Jennifer explains that, in the beginning kids enjoy running and playing, but the more a child comes to visit, the more their imagination develops. Kids will eventually identify their favorite item or game to play, thus giving parents a glimpse into their child’s personality.As for Jessica, she’s been most captivated by younger children's capabilities. She comments on how the littles came out of their shells in ways she was not anticipating. “That’s been the most fun,” agrees Jennifer. Having infants mature at The Art of Play was a pleasant outcome this year. Moms started sharing ‘tummy time’ with their infants. Jennifer and Jessica provided the safe, soft, infant space, and moms with infants just started playing.

Importance of All Types of Play

First, consider all the ways children need to play: self-directed play (free play), physical education, sensory education, and socialization. Each is incorporated at The Art of Play. The pair have intentionally set up encounters throughout the facility to encourage all types of play. Materials are changed often, such as: puzzles and sensory toys and experiences, in an effort to keep the facility in line with all of the play experiences desired. “Our role as the adults, is to set up encounters and have adequate quantities that encourages social sharing,” Jessica and Jennifer admit.

Second, take into account how children thrive with structure and routine. Just as you may schedule bath time, Jessica and Jennifer encourage scheduling play time in your child’s day. “As parents, we can learn to make our child’s day work for them,” states Jennifer.

Tips for Parents

In the last year, Jennifer and Jessica have learned more about child development than they initially planned. Which means they have some great advice for parents to ensure that their children are getting proper play at home. Here’s their quick list:

  • Provide toys that have a multiplicity of things
  • Use imagination with toys
  • Start early
  • Use the senses (feel, touch, see, smell, taste)
  • Ask your child questions, especially “why” (this helps them think and process)
  • Get involved in helping your child make up solutions to the "why"

In their own homes, Jessica and Jennifer work hard to incorporate play into their every day. Diversity in play is a big focus. They also acknowledge that children (ages 0-5) have brains that are developing quickly, so the manner in which they seek play changes with their development.

What’s next?

The Art of Play is making the commitment to continue providing play experiences to the community for years to come. Jessica and Jennifer are prepared to learn even more about child development as they embark on their second year. It’s safe to say, the facility is teaching youth as well as adults! Who doesn’t enjoy a space that provides learning to all ages?

about the author...Hannah and her husband, Derik, are new parents to a happy & talkative son,Cole. As a family of 3 they intend on keeping the adventures coming along with their dogs Toby & Sam.