at jnr.life, we believe in play all day. we speak to our accomplished friend and mother-of-three, paediatric occupational therapist anjelee khosla
about the importance of different types of play and how our jnr.play range
benefits her busy life.
there is so much talk about open-ended play. can you tell us more about the benefits?
open-ended play allows children the opportunity to explore and discover and learn through their job which is play. this encourages development in areas that are easy to see like imagination, but also underneath in other systems. it supports and “clicks-in” things like language, fine motor and gross-motor development. it doesn’t just target one area- open-ended play supports development as a whole.
we have proudly launched our very own range of soft play shapes in jnr.play. what are the benefits of soft play?
soft play allows the child to grow with the pieces and use them in versatile ways. the softness, structure and texture enable the kids to participate in sensory play as it involves touch, vision, and movement. additionally, it can be used as a way to support calmness and relaxation in other circumstances highlighting its versatility. it is timeless through all ages and development and can be used right from birth.
how do you utilise the jnr.play shapes and playmat at home as a mother and at work, as an occupational therapist?
the play pieces and playmat have become an anchor. they are like an environmental reminder of play. it helps to know where to start as the mat and cushions create an area and because they are aesthetically pleasing, they don’t need to be packed away in the cupboard when guests come over and then forgotten to bring back out.
the play shapes and mat hold the space and are a great place for open-ended play to start from. even the older kids will come and bring a board game over to the mat and use it as a space for their own play. it is a place from where anything can evolve and happen.
what play opportunities do the shapes create?
it has been amazing to see the way the play pieces have connected both physical play and imaginary play and how they come together. whether it is using the pieces to construct an obstacle course and stepping on them to not touch the floor or bringing over a tea-set and using each piece to hold a tea party.
the soft toys have been a great place for physical development but at the exact same time, the pieces enable fine motor development and imaginative play. they offer a foundation of play and invoke a language of collaboration and sharing.
watching the children moving around such big pieces allows them to develop negotiation skills. given they are soft, the children can build and knock off the pieces, providing opportunities for regulation and emotional resilience.
the environment dictates the behaviour so because the play pieces are soft, the kids can be calm and feel relaxed with the pieces, or they can still throw them around the room but they are soft so they can’t cause harm.
can you tell us more about the invitation to play concept?
invitation to play is when kids or adult set up an area and once it is set up it becomes a visual opportunity to create play.
what are some of your play ideas with the pieces?
there are specific things like creating an obstacle course, practising balancing which helps core strength, life-sized jenga pulling pieces off the stack. creating visual statues and then drawing them. using the pieces in less obvious ways is also great as it enables learning through play. using the pieces for yoga or as a very gentle rocker with my newborn.
the play pieces become a make-over for the other play items and highlights every other toy we have. for instance, i set-up a library with the play pieces where i put a book on each shape. the kids come and they see the books and they sit and engage with them. everything old becomes new again as it takes away a “structured” learning scenario at a desk and chair, which can improve both the children’s and adult’s interest level.
kids seem to play less as they grow. what is the importance of play at different ages?
there needs to be more play. we play through our whole lives but play obviously changes. having physical objects, rather than screens is key. in these covid times when anxiety is rising in children, play is more important than ever. the boundaries of play may change but as adults and through teen years play enables an endorphin release which is connected to overall wellness.