How Do Children Learn Through Play?
Don’t underestimate the value of learning through play!
Learning through play is one of our core values here at Hypointe Childcare. And believe it or not, it’s a crucial part in a child’s brain development. Your child’s brain grows the fastest and gains the most during the first 5 years of their life. Everything they see, hear, smell, touch, and taste are stimulating their brain and creating new connections. Below is a list of some of the benefits of what children learn through play.
Cognitive Skills – Understanding the World and How to Act in It
Solving problems is cognitively one of the most studied and advantageous skills children learn through play. Questions like, “what does this do?” and, “will this block balance here?” are all problems that come up in a typical day of play. In fact, learning by doing is ideal during the early years of a child’s life. Through this “doing” your child gains knowledge about their world and learns how to interact with it.
Play is a self-motivated activity that involves exploration and investigation. It encourages children to increase their memory and attention span. When learning through play is done in an environment that doesn’t seem arduous, their ability to stay on task increases. A study done in 2014 confirmed that to children, when learning begins to feel like a task, staying on task becomes a limited resource that is harder to maintain (Inzlicht et al.).
Physical Skills – Learning Through Play The Physical Way
Gross motor skills are developed when a child learns how to crawl, run, climb, balance, and more. Fine motor skills develop when a child learns how to pick up small objects or manipulate an object to perform a task. These types of skills flourish in both structured and unstructured play environments. Several prominent studies have shown that developing physical skills in young children are beneficial to their health and cognitive skills. It not only enhances their physical skills but congruently increases their memory, concentration, motivation, and well-being.
The lack of physical activity in children has become a growing concern. In 2013, studies concluded that only 51% of children received enough physical skills in a day. For most families, our lives have become more inactive for several reasons:
- Increase in technology – Smartphones, tablets, streaming shows, and video games have all become easier to own and access. Kids are given more screen time because it is easy and accessible.
- Growing concern about safe areas to play outside leave more kids inside when parents are busy.
- Busy schedules – with parents busy schedules along with the weekly activities and chores, sometimes it’s hard to get enough time to do the fun things we want to!
The Lego Foundation released an informative white paper about the benefits of play and the studies done to support it. Read about it here!
Language Skills – Developing Language Through Play at Every Stage
Infancy: Non-oral communication (smiling, eye-gazing) is learned through play and interaction. Developing a sense of cause and effect which produces more advanced sounds from infants like cooing and babbling.
Toddlers: Now beginning to develop more independence, toddlers learn through parallel play and imitation. Play skills that are developing during this age also help develop important language skills. Reinforcing language and expanding their words with them help toddlers learn these skills naturally while playing.
Preschoolers: Language becomes more frequent and meaningful when used during play at this stage. Imaginations run wild when a stick becomes a microphone and a doll becomes a game of house. Sorting objects, engaging crafts, and even simple board games encourage turn-taking and a language-rich environment through play.
Social Skills – Learning How To Play with Others
Playing with and around other children is a natural way for most children to develop healthy social skills. Having healthy social skills helps children to become mentally healthy, happy, and engaged during school times. Social skills that are learned through play also help:
- Conflict Resolution
- Gaining Empathy
- Improved Attention Span
- Taking Turns
- Higher Classroom Involvement and a Wide-Range of Interests
- Make and Maintain Friendships
- Reading Emotions Through Verbal and Non-Verbal Cues
5 Ideas to Encourage Learning Though Play at Home
- Become an Active Observer – When children are learning to solve problems, it’s important for us to not immediately step in and solve them. This encourages patience and self-motivation skills that they won’t be able to develop if someone is doing it for them. When children can’t solve a problem on their own, they will let us know. By watching them while they play, we are able to gently encourage them to solve their own problems.
- Be Creative – Think of new ways to play with toys that make your child think outside of the box.
- Get Outside – Encourage children to explore their outdoor environment in every season.
- Make Time For Play – With how busy we are, take time out of your families schedules to play.
- Practice Turn Taking – Taking turns help develop skills that children not only learn from peers but adults as well. A simple game of rolling the ball back and forth encourages play and how to take turns.
Want to learn more about our curriculum and how we encourage learning through play? Check out our curriculum here or give us a call today!