Child Care Tips: Learning Through PlaY
As a parent, you are your child’s first teacher. Although they have teachers at daycare centers and schools that can help them develop their skills– you, too, play a significant role in ensuring that your child is developing all the necessary skills that they need as they grow up.
You may not be professionally trained to prepare educational activities and materials for your child, but do not let that stop you from helping them learn!
Children Learning Through Play
You have a powerful tool at your disposal when it comes to teaching your child new things. Do not underestimate the power of play. You can use simple unstructured play to help your kid learn and develop their cognitive skills, learn new vocabulary, and enhance their social, physical, and literacy abilities.
Tips for Using Playtime for Learning
Here are some tips to help you maximize the effects of learning through play:
This tip is a no-brainer, but sometimes it still needs to be mentioned. You should remove any distractions that will take away your child’s focus from learning. Some distractions may come in the form of your television, tablets, and mobile phone.
You want your child to fully focus on being creative. Your child cannot let their imagination run wild while consuming media or while they are tinkering with your phone. Allow them to tinker with educational toys and other learning materials instead.
Follow their lead.
Engage with your child to help move along their learning process. Some of their best learning experiences will come from their interactions with you. However, let them lead the way. Do not direct them where you want them to go. Let them explore what piques their interest the most.
Invest in educational toys.
Not all toys are created equally useful for education. But that really also depends on what you are expecting your child to learn. Some of the most common and popular educational toys include ones that have light-up buttons with phrases, songs, and sounds that teach numbers, colors, shapes, etc.
Although the items mentioned above are optimized for educational purposes, it does not mean your child cannot play with toy cars or dolls. Those toys can help further develop their imagination, and depending on how you use them– they can be effective educational toys as well.
Allow them to experience failure.
By letting your child lead the way, they will inevitably experience mistakes and failures. By letting them fail, you are teaching them to learn from their mistakes.
Encourage your child.
Keep the energy and positivity as you engage with your child through play. Compliment and praise them whenever appropriate. Help boost their confidence so that they will keep playing and learning.
Give your child some space.
Some of your child’s best learning experience will indeed be from an interaction with you, but that does not mean that you have to be around them every time.
It is equally important for your child to experience things on their own. Giving them space will teach them about learning independently. The amount of space you give your child will depend on their age. The older they get, the less you need to watch them.
Giving them the chance to learn on their own can build up their confidence since this is the time that they discover that they can learn things on their own.
One of the most important things that you can do to help your child learn through play is to keep the learning going. Learning has always been an ongoing process. People learn something new every day.
Now, when the “play” ends, it does not mean that learning has to stop as well. You can keep the learning going by subtly building some learning habits into your everyday activities.
For instance, you can count the steps out loud as you climb up the stairs or sing the ABCs as you change your child’s clothes. Other subtle ways to keep the learning going includes:
- Describing what you are doing when they are around. (“I am peeling some apples and other fruits so we can eat them as snacks.”)
- Make different facial expressions in front of the mirror and encourage your child to imitate them. You can also say what expression you are making so your child will understand what it is.
- Allow them to study through textures. Describe what the texture is to them. (“Cotton is soft, sandpaper is scratchy…”)
- Talk to them about their emotions. Help them feel like they are seen and heard. Doing this will not only let them know that you care, but it also teaches them the different things that they are feeling.