As your child grows, they start to explore the world through a variety of play – for them play is their work.
Find out more about how they can learn through play, and tips on how you can facilitate their play and learning.
What is learning through play?
You may notice at your child’s early learning centre, the teachers talk a lot about play-based learning. That is because this concept is formalised in Te Whāriki, the early childhood learning curriculum set by the Ministry of Education.
At home, you don’t need to know how to design an effective play-based learning programme – free or unstructured play is perfect. You can let them do whatever takes their interest and use their imagination, or you can help them get started then leave them to it, or join in. It’s up to you!
Gaining some understanding of what can be learnt through play however is great input for when you are choosing toys and activities for your child.
What can be learnt through play
Your child will use all their senses as they play and develop a huge variety of skills. These include fine motor skills, problem solving, interpersonal skills, such as language development, taking turns, empathy, and compromise. Play can also develop a child’s self esteem, persistence, concentration, and even time management. They develop early math skills, and also learn about patterns and colours.
A simple playdough session, for example, can enhance their imaginations as they learn about textures, colours, numbers, and motor skills. Pouring water from a container is different from pouring sand from a container – while they can’t pour they playdough! It’s all learning.
Puzzles teach persistence, rotation, and shapes, while bouncing a ball enhances co-ordination and early physics knowledge!
As they get older they learn to mimic the world around them and will enjoy dressups and role playing.
By introducing toys that fuel your child’s imagination, you encourage open-ended play which helps build creativity, and becomes a part of your little ones wonderful new perspective on things.