Lessons from books are great, but children learn through play far better than they do in other forms. There are several reasons for this. At the heart of it is their desire to learn. When learning is not so much work but is fun, children are more willing to participate. They want to jump in and have a good time. As a parent, the more that you can teach through play, the more that your child will retain later on. While some skills need to be taught formally, such as math facts and reading, there are still great ways to teach through play.
Children learn through various methods, but often their physical and social world teaches them the most. Even small infants learn this way. Parents can enhance a young child’s learning process by giving them a variety of ways to learn through sight, touch, taste and smell. For infants, play the games that children love, such as peek a boo and other interactions that teach cause and effect. It also teaches them how to interact socially with their families.
As children grow older, they still need stimulation. Remember, kids having fun gives them an added incentive to do the activity you want them to. Pretend play is one of the core elements of the development of imagination. Pack up a truck full of great costumes (you can pick these up very inexpensively after Halloween) and encourage both boys and girls to play. What you will find is that many of the role playing games they play now are direct reflections of the experiences they have had. For example, a child who may be going to daycare for the first time, may practice leaving her baby doll at a pretend daycare. The act is helpful, but the conversations they have of telling the doll that “mommy will be back very soon” will help them later to deal with their fears of being left. Encourage this type of play.
Child’s play through the years changes even more so. During preschool and kindergarten, one of the best ways to teach a child is through stories and pictures. They learn to interact with each other as well as with the outside world. For example, set the stage for a great adventure story. Read them the story during the morning hours. Then, give them a few ideas and let them act out the story in their own way. You can teach many of the fundamentals in this manner, everything from manners to helping those in need.
Other activities to encourage helping children learn through play include:
- Craft projects: they explore their talents and explore texture, dimension, color and shapes
- Dance: They explore their physical bodies and stay physically fit
- Building with blocks: Everything from wooden blocks to Lego’s helps children to learn structure, dimension, balance, and help them to grow their imagination.
- Drawing: Use various types of mediums from paints to pencil to help them to learn numbers, letters, shapes and much more
These activities can incorporate other skills, too. For example, perhaps an art project can center around a specific letter of the alphabet. Do not be elaborate, but do be dramatic.
Kids having fun is something you definitely want to consider for the long term. For example, children who are nine years old and up need to develop great reasoning skills and need to learn to think strategically. They also need to develop good social skills. Great ways for kids having fun through these lessons can be anything from fun science projects to advanced building sets done in teams and even 3-D puzzles. Encourage computer projects and video games as well. Unbelievably, the video game they love to play is teaching them great hand eye coordination (assuming that the content within it is appropriate.)
How children learn through play is really up to you, their parent. Encouraging them to play, pretend, and learn all go hand in hand. The skills most children learn at these early ages are not just their math facts and their ABC’s, but they are the foundations of how to learn, how to interact with other people, and how to explore, reason and strategize. These items will carry on with them throughout their lives.
Ivana Katz of Kids Universe says she is old enough to know better, but young enough to do it again, as she rides camels, swims with dolphins and often embarrasses her son. If you want to join her on adventures and find things to do with kids, join her on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/KidsUniverse