What if you were told that your child can develop important life skills while they’re playing and having fun? It may sound unintuitive at first, but trust us when we say that learning through play is not only possible, but advisable.
Children can associate new information and learning much more rapidly and naturally than we might give them credit for. So stimulating them to have a good time with different stimuli is a great way to have them develop new abilities that can be useful throughout their lives.
The science behind learning through play
What happens is that their brains create connections while they’re playing. It’s as if new paths or possibilities are being created as they explore new possibilities. New brain cells are also being created, and these social stimulation can also impact the children.
These can also impact empathetic and creative skills. As a result, learning becomes fun!
One of the most astonishing aspects of the learning through play is the fact that children don’t actively think about learning while they’re having fun: the learning aspect is a natural consequence once a child faces some scenarios.
While the child is learning, so many aspects of their creative and social skills are stimulated. When they’re playing with another kid, they’ll possibly have to adapt to new toys or fragments of stories that are a new part of whatever they’re playing.
If the child is playing hide and seek, they need to examine the place they’re at to choose their hiding place. This is a decision making skill as well as something more ludic but also goal oriented, related to the main objective of the game itself.
How can children learn while playing and having fun?
You may be wondering if there is a connection between learning and having fun?
Learning through play is merely a natural consequence of these stimuli. It’s not related to a child’s active effort in trying to learn something so that they can use it in the future: it’s about creating ways to solve a problem, explore new possibilities, and interact with people involved in that playtime activity in different ways.
In order to continue the playtime moment (as long as they’re having fun, of course), the little explorer needs to interact with different people; negotiate; adapt to whatever the playtime buddy is bringing to the game.
These are all skills that can have an impact on their upcoming years and can even be helpful when it comes to working or studying.
What are the benefits of learning through play?
So what is the conclusion of all of this? Should I enroll my children in a place where they’re only stimulated to play, not to study and dedicate themselves to study?
This is absolutely not the case. We’ve been referring to the importance of learning through playtime for a specific period of time – their early years.
Creating these connections with entertainment and learning can help your child to build a healthy relationship with study. They’ll likely develop more confidence in their learning skills and won’t struggle as much to learn and soak in new information when presented to them.
Have a look at some skills that can be developed by your child during their playtime and interaction with other people! We’ll give some practical examples of how these skills are demonstrated according to different scenarios.
If there’s a piece of a toy missing in order to complete a game, how can the players improvise in order to not give up on the match? When it’s raining and an outdoor plan is canceled, does the child have any idea of how to spend their time with whatever they have available at home? Learning to work their way around unexpected issues is certainly something that to be proud of!
Motor development skills
In order to learn how to handle delicate materials (or even pets), or to hold tight to something to avoid it escaping from your hands, having improved motor skills is so important! Strengthening their motor capacities can also be helpful to encourage the child to have a more active and healthier lifestyle – experimenting different sports, for example!
Communication and social skills
This is associated with the possibility of interacting with other people while they’re having their playtime. You might see it being developed if the child is somehow negotiating with other peers on the terms of a game they’re playing; or maybe discussing which toys should be shared between them, or roles each person assumes during a role play. Developing this sense of communication and compromising considering other people’s needs can be extremely helpful in the future, since empathetic skills are being fostered.
This skill is related to analytical thinking. It can be developed when the little one faces a challenge involving some kind of logic: what pieces of a puzzle are a match or are misplaced? How can different blocks be combined in order to create a building? What happens if I build a tower with a narrow base: will it be stronger or come down to pieces more easily?
When children engage in a role play (i.e. playing house or market), they get to get a glimpse of what they’d feel and respond to in different situations. Getting in touch with their feelings, acknowledging it and making sense of it can help define their emotional intelligence to deal with real grown up situations in the future.
Inspiration for play and learning time!
This would not be a complete list if we didn’t add in some ideas to put the playtime and learning in practice!
- Sand and outdoor experiences
- Encourage the child to spend their time in the outdoors! Interacting with sand, water, mud, grass… See what they can come up with when they’re around sand or snow.
- How does the garden smell after the rain? What kind of animals come up during different times of the day or different places they have the habit to go to?
- Expose your child to different natural scenarios and let their imagination thrive!
- Role play
- This is a great opportunity to spend time with other children and foster your little explorer’s social skills.
- Boost your little one’s imagination by encouraging them to ask other children to play with them, or even to engage in a role-play as other children are doing it.
- Demonstrate that you’re proud of the ideas they’ve had during the playtime and applaud as they tell stories for the next role-play with friends!
- Drawing and painting
- This is an opportunity to have the child learning to express themselves, as well as develop their motor skills.
- Encourage the little one to mix different color to form new ones;
- To color within the lines of a predefined figure;
- To assign a color to a feeling.
- Telling your child different stories is a way to broaden their understanding of the world.
- Explore different cultures, scenarios, struggles and victories that characters of the books achieve.
- Encourage the child to participate in the storytelling, asking them what they feel of the choices made by the people in the story, or how your child would have done in their shoes?
- Stimulate them to use their imagination and also write their own stories!
By now, you should have no problem understanding that learning through play is fundamental to develop your little explorer’s creative and intellectual skills!
Combining learning and playtime is also a part of the Amazing Explorers Academy methodology. We invite you to learn more about AEA’s Programs and see up close how this method can boost your child’s future!