Playing and Learning is a Family Adventure
Encourage regular play-based learning for children in the early years by focusing on learning through play in a fun and interactive way.
It may be child’s play, but simple ideas can have a beneficial effect on learning areas including fine and gross motor skills and social and emotional development.
So, let’s play, learn and create magic together as a family!
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We are all embarking on a new adventure right now, and we have to do this together as a family. Learning at home may feel like it consumes so much time however let’s put it into perspective.
On average children only spend a fifth of their waking hours at school. The rest of the time is spent with family, friends and their external environment outside a classroom. In the world of learning at home, as parents and caregivers, we are able to supercharge their non-classroom experience and complement the school time learning. This presents a great opportunity.
Numerous studies have shown that children who have been taught through play-based learning have a more positive attitude to learning, a wider vocabulary and advanced problem solving, lateral thinking and analytical skills.
Both learning through play and play-based learning have long been recognised as highly successful methods of teaching in early years education - both in the classroom and at home. Learning that is fun and engaging, tactile and visual improves concentration, develops fine motor skills and supports early mathematical understanding, such as counting and sorting techniques.
Here are 5 tips on how to go on a home-learning adventure as a family:
Positive energy around the things that a child enjoys will make life easier for all.
In the early stage of motivating your children, one of the most important things is to follow the lead of their interests whether it be cars, books, blocks, colours, shapes, the garden or dinosaurs.
Take the time to watch your child play as this is where the adventure begins, where your child is intrinsically motivated.
Knowledge is taught in the form of the curriculum at school. However, our own experiences are the bedrock of development. We refer to it as experiential learning.
Children are naturally curious about the world surrounding them, so let’s make learning a fun, hands-on and engaging experience.
Look at nature and explain life cycles. Look at numbers (addresses, money) and ask what they are used for. Then discuss what they do and how it benefits us in everyday life.
There are many key foundation skills developed through play-based learning. Watch as your child builds a tower or plays with water in the bath. Look at their facial expressions: are they focused, curious, engaged or are they frustrated if things aren’t going their way?
A child’s imagination is sparked by play as they enjoy exploring and experimenting. We refer to it as learning without realising or learning through play.
To encourage this at home, try using open-ended toys (for example multi-colored pebble stones or different sized construction blocks) to encourage problem solving and design thinking. Prompt your children by asking questions or giving them themes, i.e., build the tallest tower, design a type of transport.
Hear from educational experts around the world on the benefits of play-based learning below.
When children are not in the mood to play independently you can set up simple play activities.
For example, you could set up stuffed animals “in a jungle” to complement a book you are reading, then talk to them about the story, prompting them to use their imagination.
Getting ready in advance means that you will be able to have activities ready as the morning or afternoon unfolds.
Families in this current environment have very busy schedules with work, school activities and family commitments. However, it is important to take time out to spend with your child each day and to let them know when you will be able to be with them. So, giving your children the knowledge that this is a ten-minute playtime will help to set expectations.
Whether it is setting up a play activity, talking to them about their day, having a meal together, or simply taking the time to watch them play is all valuable time together. The important point is to remember to let your children know that you enjoy this time too!
Routines like reading a book before bed are also great: it helps to develop speech and language, makes them curious and give time for parents & caregivers and child time to connect.