From the moment of birth, baby Bugz begin to learn about the world they have just entered through their experiences, and through these experiences they will begin to develop skills for the life they are to live. Play is an integral part of this development, as it is through play that children create and shape their own learning.
Starting from a place of complete dependence, a baby will progress towards different milestones at different ages. As adults, we use these guidelines to measure our children’s growth, whether they are on par for their age or need a little extra encouragement. While it is important to have these milestone guidelines in place to help us pick up any potential problems, we must remember that every child is different - some advance quickly while others take a while longer. What matters most in their development is that they are loved and supported at their own pace.
Baby Bugz (Birth to 2 Years)
In this phase, baby Bugz play alone with limited interaction with other children. Their primary way to explore their world is through their bodies, and as such, they learn to master their own bodies. In the first stage of this phase, baby Bugz touch things with their hands and put things in their mouth. They watch adults and try and mimic movements. They learn basic social interaction and how to have their needs met through their caregivers.
In the second stage, they notice how their actions cause reactions, like banging two objects together to make a noise. They start to learn the activities they enjoy and repeat those. They begin imitating other children and adults, though they don’t join in.
Play at this age includes toys that don’t have small or pointed objects that can cause choking or harm. Usually toys include stacking and nesting games, rattles, mobiles, stuffed animals and cardboard books. In the later stage, baby Bugz enjoy repetitive games, packing and unpacking, and scribbling with crayons.
- (2 to 2 ½ years ):
Little Bugz begin observing other children playing, but at this stage will not join in yet.
- (2 ½ to 3 years) :
Bugz start playing alongside other children, but are still not quite ready to play with them.
Toddlers are now able to explore their world a little more due to their increased mobility. They start to develop skills to interact with those around them, particularly language, and they start understanding how to control objects. They display some skill in reasoning and much of their play is imaginative, creating their own stories with their toys, or turning a pebble into a make-believe car.
Toys in this phase include balls, play dough and equipment that allow them to scoop, pour, sieve or spoon substances such as water and sand.
Friendly Bugz (3 to 4 years)
By this age, Bugz begin to interact with other children, forming friendships and preferences for some children over others. There may also be moments of co-operation in play.
Preschoolers begin developing more complex skills for being active in their environment, they also learn from their new friendships how to achieve their desired results. They take interest in building activities, learning how objects fit together to create more complex objects. Preschooler Bugz recognise colours, shapes, numbers and letters and begin asking questions about how things work and why things happen.
Toys include puppets, musical instruments, toys with wheels, outdoor equipment such as balls, bats, rocks and sticks. Puzzles provide opportunities for reasoning and problem solving. Imaginative play becomes more advanced.
Team Bugz (4 to 6 years + )
Bugz will now play actively with other children with shared goals, tackling more difficult tasks with the support of their peers.
School going Bugz begin learning more about group activities, resolving conflict and cooperation. They understand simple rules and about taking turns. Their communication is enhanced by learning to write and do simple maths and as such, play tends to incorporate activities that require strategy, such as board games, magic tricks, science experiments, such as magnets and crafts.
Through play, children develop their language, physical, emotional, social, and intellectual skills. They learn from their environments and the people in their world. The best way to encourage learning is to prepare an environment that allows a child the freedom to explore and learn through their actions and play. The play area should invoke an interest in the activities which have been prepared to encourage the child to explore and learn through their experience with the equipment.