With imagination in full gear, three-year-olds are entering a peak period for pretend play. And they LOVE to ask questions—about everything! Have fun encouraging self-expression and rich, exploratory play for your increasingly independent three-year-old.
She likes dressing up or pretending she's someone else
He loves to move and does not care to be still
She's reassured to hear that people love her
He begins to compare and contrast himself with others
Basic ball play—like catching or kicking a ball—can improve balance and coordination
He can throw a ball a short distance and can catch it if it's thrown directly in his arms
She starts drawing faces and people
He can make balls, sausages and figures out of play dough
Her squiggles begin to look like writing
He shows sympathy for storybook characters
What if … Prompt imaginative play with different scenarios once your child is familiar with a toy.
Point out heroes in your neighborhood, country or the world. Explain why heroes are special people. Your child is still too young to really know about current events, but remember how much kids absorb from hearing the news or adults' conversations.
Tell me a story. Asking your child to tell you about what he's pretending will encourage thinking and help develop language and communication skills. Every once in a while ask, "What did your superhero do today?"
Begin with full instructions about starting, stopping and steering. Set the vehicle on its slowest speed at first to give your child some warm-up time.
Safe and sure. Make sure the area your child is riding in is not only safe, but also big enough to make turns. Always directly supervise your child and be certain she's absolutely clear about where it's safe to ride.
Practice makes perfect. Set up an obstacle course with traffic cones or kid-sized road signs you've made together. Tell your child about some of the basic traffic symbols, and point out real road signs as you're driving together.
Taking turns. If your child is sharing the vehicle with a sibling or friend, a timer can be a helpful, impartial "announcer" when it's someone else's turn to drive.
Parking spot. Find a safe place for your child to "park" his vehicle in your garage or shed, with the responsibility to return it there when he's done driving.
On your mark, get set … For guaranteed fun, get down on the floor and play right alongside your child. Bring other vehicles into the play, then find yourselves in a race!
Create imaginary scenarios for play. Does your racecar need to stop at the garage for repairs? Use a play tool set or child-safe real tools (with your supervision, of course) to add to the fun. Tell your child the name of the tool and what it's used for. Talk about how other tools are used.
I recommend a variety of toys for learning, not just those labeled as such. In some way, all toys have some learning benefits. In fact, you’d be amazed by what children can learn from even the most basic toys.
Play helps children learn about themselves and their understandings of their expanding physical and social worlds. Play gives children opportunities to figure out how things work, how to get along with others and to try on new roles.