You’ve probably heard, if not actually used the phrase that an activity is ‘as simple as child’s play’. However, while child’s play may be fun, it’s actually not that simple and is more involved than most people might think.
In fact, by the age of 5 many kids will have acquired most of the basic and essential life skills which they will then continue to build upon as they progress through childhood and become adults.
Play is an essential part of childhood and has a vital role in your child’s learning process.
It enables them to acquire physical, emotional, social and intellectual skills that will stand them in good stead throughout their life.
But how do children learn through play? What does play involve? What skills do they learn?
These are just some of the many important questions that have been asked by parents and studied by researchers over the years.
What Is Learning Through Play?
The phrase Learning through play is normally used by educators and psychologist to describe the development of social and cognitive skills to grow emotionally, to build self esteem and self confidence through play.
The simple truth is that every experience in a child’s life offers an opportunity for learning.
Play provides children with a fun and natural way to learn and develop essentials skills.
Small children learn at an extremely fast rate, acquiring new skills and knowledge at a rapid rate of speed.
Playing with and without toys allows children to explore the world around them and learn a wide range of skills in a safe and fun manner.
Did you know that play can be divided into a number of different categories?
What Skills Do Children Learn Through Play?
Young children learn almost all of their basic skills through play in the first few years of life. After that time, children build out those skills and acquire new one based on early learning.
In this section, we will talk about different types of skills that children gain through play at various ages.
But keep in mind that many skills will have started when your little one was an infant or toddler and will continue to advance as your child engages in more advanced play and has a larger variety of experiences.
How do Infants Play?
How do 1 to 3 Year Olds Play?
3 To 5 Years
6 To 9 Years
9 To 12 Years
By the time your child reaches the ages of 9 to 12, they will be ready for or already be in middle school.
They will show a marked independence, often preferring to spend time with friends their own age to family members.
While much of their play will be centered around organized sports or clubs, they will still have a need for some free play time in which to unwind and continue to explore at their own speed.
They will continue to develop the life skills they’ve learned earlier and they will engage more with others and the world around them.
How Play Has Changed
Between more families living extremely hectic lives, the push towards technology and the pressure for children to succeed, play has changed a great deal in the last couple of generations.
With both parents having to work, children often have a full schedule and go into any number activities at an earlier and earlier age.
Over scheduling has cut down on the amount of free time that kids have today and that presents many families with some unique challenges.
While the push for early academics is designed to give children a head start, it has actually resulted in less free play time.
Less play time means that kids have less opportunity to learn and to discover things for themselves.
And it may also have adverse effects on their social development and emotional health.
Therefore, it’s important for us, as parents, to try to find ways to give our children adequate time to play, to experiment, to observe and to discover.
By doing that, we can ensure that our kids will grow up to be well adjusted, healthy and happy adults.
Fun Learning Games For Kids
One thing that parents can do to create more play time for their children is to, whenever possible, engage your child in some simple and fun learning games.
The Need For Both Indoor And Outdoor Play
When giving your children the time to play, make sure that the playtime is also spent in different locations.
Why Should Parents Encourage Learning Through Play?
Most experts would agree that parents shouldn’t really push children to learn while they play.
Instead, for the majority of the time, parents should simply allow children, especially very young children, to enjoy playing for fun and the learning will come naturally.
Even as a child gets older, and parents play games such as scrabble or boggle with their child, they shouldn’t present the game as something to help them learn, but rather as a fun game the entire family can enjoy.
The simple act of giving your child plenty of opportunities to play, different types of venues to play in, and some great toys that will hold their interest, will allow your child to learn in a natural and easy manner.
Of course, from time to time, your child will need to be directed in play.
For example, introducing them to the rules of a game, or showing them how to splash in a kiddie pool.
But then step back, let them take over from there and do what comes natural to them.