Category Archives: children’s games

Child’s Play

Play is a child’s work. It is what they need to do to explore their environment, to understand their own bodies and to experiment with ideas and objects. It is how they learn about themselves and their world.

When children play they experience now ways to solve problems and learn new skills needed to become a healthy adult.

Research suggests that children to engage in 15 minutes of play at recess are better behaved in the classroom and are more likely to learn than children who do not have recess. (Barros, Silver and Stein 2009.

Play does not come easily for all children. Some children have a physical, psychological or cognitive issue which limits their play in some areas. This is where occupational therapy can help.

How You Can Help Your Child to Play


During their first few months, babies enjoy colourful mobiles, rattle and other toys. They also enjoy vocal play such as singing and nursery rhymes or just talking. They may show their enjoyment by moving their arms and legs. Encourage you baby to participate in vocal play and engage with toys. You can encourage you baby to play in different positions, lying on their back, side or tummy.

Tummy time is generally encouraged to assist with child development. Some babies don’t enjoy playing on their tummies. You can help them by singing and presenting toys. If that doesn’t work, you can use an incline, even placing the baby on your chest, to encourage them in this position.

Tummy time

As babies learn to grasp and move on their own, they enjoy playing with mirrors, balls, squeezy toys, water toys, blocks and many things you don’t want them to play with. They may become attached to your car keys, your mobile phone or simply enjoy rummaging through handbags.

Avoid placing your child in an unsupported sitting position before they are ready. Babies can be placed in sitting and maintain the position for a few minutes before they are really ready to sit and there is no benefit in doing that. The important thing is that they can move in and out of sitting by themselves. They may not develop this skill until they are 6 months or older.

Safety is an issue when babies start to move around. Consider his or her environment and remove or control any dangers that may be present. Restraining a child prevents their play and removes opportunities to learn so try to remove risks rather than restrain the child.

Babies are still learning about their bodies and their preferred method of discovery is their mouth. Make sure that any toys they use, not to mention anything they could find to play with, is safe. Small items such as parts of a complex toy can easily become a choking hazard.


Toddlers learn fine motor skills by playing with toys and other items around the house. They love finger painting, play dough and construction toys such as Lego or Duplo. These toys help them to develop fine motor co-ordination.

As children learn to walk and run, they enjoy push toys, pull toys and games such as hide and seek, or climbing around in the playground.


Imitation and pretend play increases during the pre-school years. Children may use dress ups, puppets, dolls or toy cars. Children can sometimes be observed using sticks in imaginative play. At this time they improve all their previous skills. They become better at climbing playground equipment, better at puzzles, better at construction and better at drawing etc.

School Aged Children

Once at school play becomes an important way to get rid of some excess energy so that concentrating in class is easier. Friendships develop as children play and learn together.

Play can become more structured and can include team sports and organised games.

Play is always more fun with someone else and Mum or Dad are the most fun to play with.

You can encourage your child to play by:

  • Engaging in play with your child,
  • Have craft materials ready so the child can participate when he or she wants to,
  • Provide both structured and unstructured play, for example, joining a soccer team and playing in the garden with neighbours.
  • Just like recess, active play after school can help prepare you child for learning.

Don’t forget, play is fun. If it looses the fun factor, it is no longer play!





The decline of handwriting: a rant

Developing  Skills for Handwriting

There is no doubt the world is changing and changing at an increasing pace. Many children still love their sport but many don’t. The older fine motor activities seem to be dated now that they have been replaced by computers. And why not? Inside a computer (connected to the internet) is an entire world. You can be anyone, do anything, learn anything. Whatever, your passion, you can get your fix on line. So the old-fashioned kids activities like, marbles, jacks, drawing, making things, and so on, well, they don’t really compete. Children participate in fine motor activities much less they have  done in years gone by. That is of course, with the exception of keyboard use! Most kids seem to be pretty skilled at that!

Even gross motor skills are not practiced as much as they were. For children who love sport, they do still participate, but lets face it. These are not the kids who needed the practice anyway. The kids who find sport a bit challenging are less likely to give netball or footy a go and more likely to try an online game instead. There seems to be less casual sport around. Most sport these days seems to be of the more formal variety, where you register with your local AFL, netball or athletics club. You attend games on Saturdays (generally on the other side of the city), train on Tuesdays and complete the season, hopefully as the champion team. That kind of sport is great but I regret that kids don’t seem to participate in the less formal version as much. The football after school, with whoever turns up, cricket in the cul de sac and the even less organised hitting a ball against a wall with a stick!

Difficulty with Handwriting

Both fine motor and goss motor skills are important for handwriting. When you add to the fact that children are not developing these skills in the same way they have in the past, with the fact that they are simply not using handwriting as much at school or at home, it is little wonder so many children have difficulty with handwriting.

Handwriting in the Education System

Now, I am not calling for a return to the past. No one can deny the overwhelming advantages to the use of technology. In the future handwriting is likely to be a more specialised skill and children will be able to complete their education with no disadvantage due to poor handwriting. I believe that computers will be used for all exams in the future. But this is not the case now. Handwriting is a critical part of education for every child. If a child cannot master handwriting so that it is legible and produced at a reasonable speed, then they are at a significant disadvantage in the current system. Handwriting has also been shown to assist in the learning process.

Helping Children Who Have Difficulties with Handwriting

Childworks can help children to develop the handwriting skills they need at school. We evaluate each child individually, looking not only at their handwriting ability, but their general performance at school and at home and any issues that might be impacting on their handwriting ability for example their environment, disability or other factors. We then put together a plan to help them based on evidence about the development of handwriting skills and on what that child in particular needs. This involves, where possible, seeing the child perform at school and speaking to his or her teacher.

Referring a Child for Help With Handwriting

If you would like to refer your child to Childworks or just ask a question, please use the contact form which you can find here.