Parents always want the best for their kids – and this extends to their education. From teaching children to count and add numbers from an early age to teaching them how to recognize animals and insects, every small academic milestone is exciting for parents.
However, some parents are unaware of how they can help their children learn by playing with them. Yes, playing with your kids helps them learn better! This might sound strange to you, but your children learn when they play games that keep them engaged, and help them focus on problems. Problem solving, curiosity, and delayed gratification are just some of the skills that your kids will learn through play.
Just as you must have learned from parenting articles and blogs, the early years are the best time to teach your kids how to learn through play. No doubt that your children need to have an understanding of the more technical aspects of learning; reading, writing, and counting, but they must also develop a solid learning foundation to help them succeed in school work.
Encouraging Kids to Play
Toddlers are very curious about everything around them. This is because, to them, everything they see is a new concept they are trying to figure out. When toddlers play, one of their favorite things to do is to empty their basket of toys and place the basket on their heads, or bang it on the floor.
Similarly, you might notice that your toddler loves shaking their rattles to make quite a lot of noise, but doesn’t spend too much time on one toy. This is normal, as children of that age have a short attention span; around 5 minutes or less, and are always eager to move on to something new once bored.
As a parent, you can encourage your child’s perseverance by saying things like “I see you trying to fix that puzzle piece on the board. Can you place it this way and see if it fits?” Words of encouragement like these foster your child’s patience, problem solving skills, and perseverance.
As your kids get older, you will notice that their favorite toys and play activities changes. Your preschooler, for example, will be more excited to play pretend, dress up, and play with her dolls. Kids love to live in their imagination, and their pretend play teaches them to think abstractly. Holding a doll and pretending that it is a real baby is abstract thinking. Mathematics deals with a lot of abstract thinking, and so your child playing pretend is actually a good way to develop their understanding of numbers.
By sitting with your child while she plays pretend, you’re encouraging her to think and practice things like number skills. For example, when your child plays pretend shopping, ask them to write out their grocery list, and count how many items they will need to buy at the supermarket.
Playing with your child encourages them to spend more time doing what they love, and also helps them learn new skills. Commenting on your child’s play and asking them questions leads them to think more critically about what they are doing, and also use their toys productively. In addition to learning, you and your child will also share bonding time that will help foster a better relationship between the two of you.
Every time you are tempted to take your child’s toys away and replace them with strictly educational material, remember that play and learning go together, and building a solid approach to learning is just as important for their future academic success.