Playing makes all the difference

Time spent reading with a child is an investment in the future.
Time spent reading with a child is an investment in the future.

DO old nursery rhymes, games and books evoke distant memories of childhood for you?

Then you’re not alone — and it turns out that those fun moments with the family played an important role in making us who we are today.

The Scottish government runs an early years campaign, promoting playing, talking and reading with children under three to improve their learning skills.

Research shows that 75 per cent of brain growth is completed within the first three years of a child’s life — and an estimated 50 per cent of language is already in place.

Parents who talk to their toddlers regularly can increase the amount of words they know by up to 250 by the time they reach their second birthday.

The government scheme, which includes a hints and tips website, promotes the attitude that kicking a ball around or colouring in can have a huge impact on a child’s capacity to learn, as well as their social behaviour and future opportunities.

Sue Palmer, chair of the Scottish play policy forum, explained: “From the moment they’re born, children need real-life play and fun activities to develop their physical coordination and control.

“They need mum and dad to talk to them about everyday events to develop their language and social skills. And they need stories, rhymes and songs to lay the foundation for success at school”.

She added: “I’ve met lots of parents who find the Play, Talk, Read website really helpful. It just nudges your memory with ideas for having fun with babies and toddlers, while helping along their natural development”.

Backing the campaign is southside grandmother-of-four Marion Morris, who spends a lot of time with her youngest, Mia (2), including taking her to playgroup two to three times a week.

Marion commented: “Nursery rhymes get her excited so we’re always singing her favourites – she’s gradually picking up words and I’m conscious that this will help her speech develop.

“I really hope that all the things we do together will help give her a better start in life, and to make things easier when she needs to go to school”.

For more play ideas, visit www.playtalkread.org, or drop in to the St Enoch centre tomorrow (Friday), where a Play, Talk, Read roadshow will run throughout the day.