It is always easier to learn something if its fun. That is why play and interaction with objects, sounds & surroundings are so important in the development of your baby and child.
How do children learn through play?
Social skills are developed via interaction with caregivers, friends and family. Sharing our toys with others through play helps develop empathy and kindness.
Physical development is also aided as we play, fine motor skills are improved by pinch & grip, cause and effect lessons are learnt by banging or dropping things.
Dressing up, playing shops, having tea parties with our dolls and teddy bears are all part of learning through play. Playing is also a great way to encourage development and communication skills in babies and children.
Using their imagination when creating stories for their toys or friends. New wonderful places and adventures, means their worlds expand and possibilities are endless in their imaginations.
Children are not restricted by our adult view of the world, this is why it is so important to engage in play with our children and not just give them an electronic baby sitter because it is easier.
What are the best ways to help children learn through play?
Interaction with friends and family as well as with toys are all great learnings.
Young children and babies as they develop, learn a lot about cause and affect lessons by dropping and throwing things. So whilst it maybe slightly annoying to keep picking up teddy off the floor just remember they are learning and not trying to be annoying.
Ball games, catch and throw help with flexibility and coordination, as well as learning to share and be part of a team, which is great for social skills.
What are the best toys for learning through play?
Building blocks, jigsaws and shape sorters are all excellent for teaching children to learn through play.
Younger children will prefer building blocks and shape sorters as these are easier to hold and will help develop pincer grip and fine motor skills.
Sound toys are perfect for very young babies and this is where learning starts. Children soon learn that when they shake a rattle a nice noise comes out, so they do it again and again. This is cause and effect learning.
As children get older their grip strength, coordination and logical thinking all starts to develop, so simple jigsaws, building sets and arts and crafts become more interesting.
Learning through role play
Representational role play starts to become interesting for children from about 18 months, they will enjoy dressing up, cooking dinner, playing shop. They will use their toys as part of this process but be warned that anything is fair game so don’t be surprised if your pots and pans from the kitchen become involved.
Learning through outdoor play
Don’t forget outdoor play which is great as well as it allows children to explore a new environment, jumping in puddles, scrunching through leaves, digging in the sand are all great activities that help with physical development and understanding of the outside environment. As well as great fun it is important to teach your child about nature and their place in the world.
Whatever toys or games you decide on, the most important thing is interaction and time, that is the best thing we can give to our children.