Balancing A Child’s Work And Play During School Season

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How to ensure that your child gets a healthy mix of work and play this year.

It seems as though kids these days have more and more priorities each and every year that they have to balance. Between soccer practice, homework, participating in clubs, playing with friends and spending time with family, it can seem nearly impossible some days to try and fit it all in. Sooner or later, you may even feel as though you need to start sacrificing some activities over others in order to have a more manageable schedule. But is it fair to your child to start cutting the fun activities out of their life in favor of more time for school work?

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Structured Play Versus Free Play

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A comparison of structured and free play, with valuable information about both.

Structured play, which is also called “guided play,” is generally geared toward preschoolers or those entering kindergarten. It consists of any game or activity that has a specific goal for a child to strive towards. This could be anything from motor skills (the coordination of muscles) to sensory skills, to things they will be learning in daycare or preschool, such as the days of the week, or identifying their colors. Toys or activities that are used in structured play range from puzzles  to music classes to follow-the-leader type games like “Simon Says”. Many parents and educators are advocates for structured play, claiming it gives children a sense of direction and varied skills. But is it really the best option for children when it comes to play time?

A different perspective is free play. Free play is much more open ended than structured play. Activities like playing with building blocks, coloring or drawing, using make believe, or going to a park or playground are all examples of free play. While structured play tends to have games with sets of rules involved, free play is the opposite. Aficionados for free play argue it can be more creative and beneficial for kids.

While there is a place for both kinds of play in a child’s life, there are certainly room for pros and cons of each kind of play. Which type do you think will work best with your child?

Structured Play Pros

  • There’s much more organization in structured play than there is with free play. It’s also likely that the play will be overseen by an adult, giving children a safe and reliable place to play.
  • Structured play gives children many positive qualities to learn, such as self-discipline, listening skills, and resolve. It also gives kids a chance to learn skills that are important for preschool and school, such as social skills, taking turns, and working in a group.

Structured Play Cons

  • When every game or activity has boundaries or rules, there can be little room for creativity within kids. Furthermore, it guides children to stick to the activity that has been chosen for them, despite the fact that they may not be interested in it.

Free Play Pros

  • Creativity and freedom are key. Children can create an entire worlds and environments through free play with no rules or regulations. Because of this, they can conquer their fears, learn new talents, and gain confidence. Children can also initiate play on their own, and play alone or with another person or group.

Free Play Cons

  • There is less adult supervision, which can cause a pair or group of children to possibly become out of control, causing accidents or hurt feelings.
  • It tends to only focus on games and activities that children already enjoy, instead of branching out and discovering new educational skills.

For more information on how types of play affect children, or toys that can educate them while entertaining them, stop by Laser Peg’s website today.

Finding the Best Toys For An Autistic Child

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Parents of autistic children sometimes have a complicated time when trying to choose a toy for their child. They want a toy that their child will treasure and enjoy, but one that is able to serve as an educational tool. But since there is a full spectrum of children with autism, no one child is alike. Below are an array of options to consider when buying toys for autistic children.

Options for Sensory Stimulation

Children with autism are more likely to have sensory issues. This means they need more help with activities, games, or toys that will hone the senses. Their issues can range anywhere among the five senses- sight, touch, smell, taste, and hearing. This gives plenty of leeway in looking for a specific toy.

A great general toy for autistic children with sensory problems, however, would be something like a mini trampoline. This provides exercise and help with sight and touch. A cheaper and handmade “toy” consisting of crates filled with things like sand, beans, or marbles that they can play in reinforces their sense of touch. Another economical option is to string up some Christmas lights around your house to improve their sense of sight. If they’re the kind that make noise, then you can use them to benefit their sense of hearing as well.

Building Social Butterflies

Like all people their age, children with autism may a hard time making new friends. However, a symptom of autism that some might have is not picking up on social cues. This can make for awkward play dates or interactions at school. Finding games to sharpen their social skills can be a lifesaver. Choices like board games can be a huge help. Board games, which need to have more than one person playing, will assist in picking up social skills. The whole family, or just a few friends can pitch in and play.

Another option are building block toys like Legos. While they can be played with individually, the level of enjoyment is raised when more people join in. It can be a learning experience for your child to focus on playing with other people, not getting upset over losing, and practicing how to take turns.

Improving Motor Skills

Autism may also affect children’s motor skills. Motor skills involve things that require coordination of the muscles, like throwing a ball, writing, walking, or running. This can make what others think of as normal, daily activities, an uphill battle for autistic kids.  If they’ve been struggling with these skills a long time, it can give children with autism a real loss of confidence. There are a few toys out there that can help with these skills, however. Stackers, puzzles, do-it-yourself kits, and coloring sets are all great choices to help improve an autistic child’s motor skills.

If you’re still not exactly sure on what toy you should buy to help your child cope with autism, call or click to find out more about Laser Pegs today!

Why You Should Make Time for Creative Activities with Your Kids

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If your family is like many families out there, you probably juggle multiple schedules between work, school, sports and other extracurricular activities. Busy schedules can make it difficult for some families to even sit down at the dinner table together on a regular basis.  It is important, though, to find time to spend together as a family, and working on creative activities can help bring you closer together.

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Sports and Construction Toys May Benefit Kids with ADHD

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If you are a parent or educator who is in search of engaging activities for kids who have been diagnosed with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), you may want to consider spending more time outside the home or classroom and adding building or construction toys to your kid’s toy box. While some research has shown that kids with ADHD can stay engaged while playing video games, there is some concern that the repetitiveness of these games may actually encourage ADHD.

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Laser Pegs Construction Sets Recognized at 2013 Creative Child Awards

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At Laser Pegs we strive to make unique toy construction sets that kids love, spurs their creativity and helps them develop skills, all at the same time. We also hope to be seen as innovators in our field, by offering kids cool toys they can’t find with other toy designers. That innovation was launched in April 2009 when we released our first building set to the global market. Continue reading

Introducing Laser Pegs New NFL-Endorsed Laser Light Toys

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Play like your favorite football players with these NFL Laser Pegs toys.

As kids, we often have a number of different heroes and role models that we look up to. Whether it is your favorite musician or TV star, an all-star athlete on your favorite sports team, or even the president of the United States, role models are a great inspiration for kids of all ages. In fact, it is with these role models in mind that many girls and boys often choose what they want to be when they grow up or what their dream job would be. They work hard and train to be just like their favorite stars!

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