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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Pretend Play and Theory of Mind Have a Big Impact on Child Development

Pretend play isn't as simple as it seems. The act of pretending a brandished stick is a sword, or a rock held overhead is a plane may seem like rudimentary child enjoyment, but it’s much more. Your child wouldn't develop some critical skills if she didn't use her imagination. In fact, pretend play, theory of mind and child development go hand in hand.

Learning Social Skills

When a child engages in make-believe, she experiments with the social roles she’s familiar with in her own life. She might take on the role of the Mom while playing house, giving her a chance to walk in someone else's shoes and learn empathy for her own mother. Pretend play also often includes cooperation with others. This teaches children to take turns, share, problem solve and be creative.

Increasing Emotional Skills

"Theory of mind" is the awareness that not everyone has the same opinions and that people see the world from different perspectives. This important emotional understanding increases with pretend play as children make-believe they're someone else. Imaginative play also builds self-esteem as children test their limits and see what they’re truly capable of.

Developing Language Skills

It’s difficult to play with others without using language. If you listen in on your child playing pretend with friends, you’re bound to hear words and phrases you didn’t even know she knew. Creative play also often requires participants to reenact a story, which further helps language skills develop.

Practicing Problem-Solving Skills

Whether two children want to play the same role or a group of friends needs to devise rules for a new game, pretend play calls for problem-solving skills. This becomes important for future play, as well as important situations later on in life.

Encouraging Pretend Play

Over the past 75 years, numerous researchers and theorists have pinpointed the values of pretend play and the impact it has on child development. It’s clearly important to encourage fantasy games and creative play to help your child grow into a happy, thriving young adult.

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Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Sensory Exploration Begins at Birth, Shaping Our Learning and Memory

Before your child is born, he or she hears sounds in the womb. That’s why, as a newborn, a baby can distinguish the mother’s voice from other voices. Very early on, a baby can tell the difference between sweet and salty tastes, will gravitate toward good smells and can feel comforted by a soft, warm blanket.
As a baby’s senses become heightened with age, that contented, happy nature may change. He or she may become newly annoyed by a wet diaper or reject the texture of a new food. It may be confusing or annoying as a parent, but these changes are signs that your child is beginning to make more sense of the world.
Children and adults alike learn and make memories through their senses, which makes encouraging sensory exploration at a young age important.


Have you ever had someone try to teach you a concept without seeing or experiencing it for yourself? Learning through sight, sound, smell, taste and touch is much easier than just having the concept described to you.
For example, picture trying to explain the word "melt" to a child. You would quickly find it’s much easier to get your point across if you have the child hold an ice cube and watch as it slowly shrinks and drips.
In a more drastic example, children are sure to immediately learn the word "hot" if they try to eat a steaming bowl of soup. By facilitating safe sensory exploration, you give your child the chance to investigate objects and materials and learn how the world works.


Have you ever smelled a particular perfume or tasted a certain food and been transported back in time to a memory from your youth? Sensory experiences and memories are closely related. Children are most likely to build memories based on sensory exploration when they're young. Having a good memory is a skill that will help your child for a lifetime, whether in school or while completing day to day activities.

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Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Encouraging Play in Children Teaches Necessary Skills for Growing Up

encouraging play in children
Play is children’s work. It may not seem like it from an adult’s point of view, but without play, kids might never grow up. That’s why encouraging play in children is so important.

Pretending Becomes Reality

Consider two young sisters playing house. The older one decides she’s the mommy and assigns the younger one to be the baby. The pretend mommy is thrilled at the role she gets to play. Acting like an adult is fun, as long as it’s only for a little while.
As they play, the pretend mommy trips and scrapes her knee. She’s still in character though, and doesn’t want the game to end, so instead of crying, she ignores the sting and goes back to "grocery shopping." By holding it together for the sake of the game, this little girl is actually teaching herself she can hold it together even when she’s not playing pretend.

Play Helps Children Grow Up

More and more, children today are over-scheduled with structured lessons, classes and activities when what they really need is more free play, or time to indulge in creative play that has nothing to do with parents, coaches or technology. It’s easy to mistake free play for a waste of time. After all, it’s not goal-oriented, and your child certainly can’t put "played house" on a college application, but that doesn’t mean it’s a waste of time.

Benefits of Play

First of all, playing makes children happy. It also helps them learn to focus, create, problem solve, self-regulate, take turns and communicate more effectively. Some say encouraging play in children also makes kids smarter. These are traits you want to instill in your child, and it’s as easy as making sure they have time to play independently every day!
Even baby animals play, unknowingly practicing the skills they need to make it to adulthood. Pouncing on sticks is early hunting training, while playing tag is great practice for evading those pouncing predators. Why would Mother Nature program play into all mammals if it accomplished nothing?
Many schools think that by cutting recess, they’re adding education time, but play is education! Help your child learn necessary skills for growing up b encouraging play! For more information, please contact ListenLoveLearn today. We want to help your child succeed.

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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Strong Listening Skills in Children Benefit More Than Just Behavior

When interacting with your child at home, do you emphasize the importance of listening? The ability to listen and pay attention is vital for building good behavior, but strong listening skills benefit your child in even more ways.


Children who know how to listen change their behaviors based on the observations they make. For instance, if a child sees her sister get a reward for bringing home an exemplary report card, she is likely to strive for good grades to receive the incentive as well. In this way, behavioral improvements often rely on the ability to listen and obverse carefully.


When holding a discussion with children, their ability to listen gives them insight into their own opinions. Does one child agree with what another child says? As each individual makes that decision for themselves, they each discover their own personal ideas, interests and preferences. This self-discovery is vital for unlocking their individual possibilities.


Good listening skills foster deeper communication and stronger relationships. Children are more likely to build lasting friendships if they know how to give their full attention to their peers. A good listener becomes the person her friends want to confide in because she makes her friends feel appreciated and valued simply because she knows how to listen.


Listening is vital to learning. Daydreamers in the classroom have a harder time concentrating and often have poorer memories. On the other hand, focused, active listeners grasp the content more quickly and implement what they learn both in their studies and in their everyday lives. Active listeners are more likely to have high grades and excellent comprehension of lessons than passive listeners.

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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Types of Children’s Toys That Promote Healthy Social Skills

How do you encourage your child to develop good social skills? Of course, your example and the discussions you have on the topic are vital, but there are also toys that promote social skills. Certain games are capable of sculpting your child’s social personality. Discover which categories of toys these include and the role they play in building healthy social skills in children.

Building Blocks

While you may only think of building blocks as a way to stimulate motor skills, they are capable of much more. After all, a box of blocks is big enough for two or three or children to play with, which teaches them about sharing and working together. It may result in one child knocking down another child’s structure and, while stressful for a moment, such situations are important social learning opportunities for youngsters.

Board and Card Games

Most board and card games are built for two or more players, which instantly promote social skills. Board games are also competitive, which gives children a chance to encounter sore losers and boastful winners. They learn that you win some and you lose some, and they can either take a loss hard and let it ruin their day or take it in stride.

Toys to Play Pretend

Open-ended toys that encourage creative play consequently stimulate good social skills. As soon as two or more children start playing, they must work together to build the scenario. Dress up clothes, toy cooking sets, dollhouses and action figures help children learn to share and cooperate as they play.

Sporty Toys

The nature of sports-based toys is teamwork. Whether it’s playing catch or a game of basketball, physical activities let children test their skills and decide how to handle their own setbacks, as well as the skills of others.

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Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Holiday Gift Guide for Children: Creative Toy Ideas for Newborns to Elementary Age

You want your child to play with toys that are not only fun, but developmentally beneficial. Consider some unique toy gift ideas for children from newborn to elementary school age.

Birth to 18 Months

  • Giant Blocks: Children are used to playing with small blocks, but giant soft blocks are another option for creative play. This toy helps babies develop hand-eye coordination and motor skills while providing a larger-than-life sensory experience.
  • Magna Giraffe: This plush giraffe toy features interactive rattles, bells, and stretchy arms and legs. The colorful body segments connect with magnets so children ages 9 months and older can explore different ways to arrange the body.

18 to 36 Months

  • Barnyard Activity Boxes: This high quality, 28-piece wooden set comes with color-coordinated barns and animals. Toddlers ages 2 and up develop number, language and sensory skills as they match colors and shapes to discover which animal lives in each barn.
  • Wonder Walker: As toddlers learn to walk, the Wonder Walker provides a sturdy base for cruising around the house until they have the balance and coordination to walk unassisted. Movable knobs and gears help develop children’s motor skills even when they’re tired of walking.

3 to 5 Years

  • Adventure Road Mat: The mat is comprised of puzzle pieces that fit together to create various roadway designs. Building and playing with the Adventure Road Mat stimulates creative play, sorting, and motor and language skills development.
  • Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes: This creative guessing game teaches about the parts of the body. It also helps children develop language, motor and memory skills.

5 to 7 Years

  • Castle: This coloring playhouse facilitates imaginative play at its finest! Children decorate the outer walls with the included jumbo washable markers and play inside as whatever characters they dream up.
  • Discovery Space Center: Laid out like a dollhouse, the Discovery Space Center fuels imaginative play, storytelling, role playing and creativity. It also promotes dexterity, hand-eye coordination and manipulation.

7 Years and Up

  • Smarty Pants: Designed for third graders, this card set tests the player’s smarts on fun facts and trivia. Children can play alone or with others. Colorful illustrations, games, quizzes and puzzles keep learning fun and exciting.
  • PowerClix: Kids’ imaginations go wild with this 74-piece 3D magnetic building set. Children can follow the included instructions or create their very own models for advanced sensory learning.
For more information about these toy gift ideas, contact ListenLoveLearnToys today.

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Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Does Imagination Play Affect the Ability of a Child to Self-Regulate?

children playing with toys
In the first half of the 20th century, children played more or less unsupervised. They roamed outside or in one another’s back yards and engaged in unrestrictive imagination play. They used the objects around them to invent games on the spot. They improvised, regulated their play and made up their own rules.

In the second half of the 20th century, things started to change that have only escalated to this day. Children began having less time for free play as their schedules filled with structured activities. Even during playtime, more toys today come with a specific purpose in mind, a predetermined script that minimizes the amount of imagination play that occurs.

While many of today’s toys are incredibly useful for structuring play, keeping kids safe, teaching them certain skills and providing entertainment in a waiting room, imagination play is still critical. Without it, children tend to miss out on the chance to learn important self-regulation skills.

Children who can self-regulate have the ability to control their emotions, curb inappropriate behavior, resist impulsive actions and exert greater self-discipline.

How are imagination play and the ability to self-regulate connected? One reason is because make-believe provides an opportunity to engage in “private speech.” This is when children quietly talk to themselves about what they plan to do and how to do it. Many studies have unveiled a connection between this type of policing language and self-regulating behaviors.

For example, picture preschoolers in a free-choice period of play. Toys are strewn about once the playtime ends. Researchers have found that the children who engage in complex imagination play more often are those who take on the responsibility of cleaning up with greater willingness. They even tend to assist their friends in cleaning up without being prompted by the teacher.

It’s clear that, while developing cognitive skills in a formal learning environment is important, free play for children is absolutely not a waste of time. You can encourage imagination play and help your child learn to self-regulate with toys specifically geared toward creative play from ListenLoveLearnToys. For more information, please contact ListenLoveLearn today.

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