The early years matter
The last 30 years of scientific research have taught us that the most crucial period in human development takes place between the ages of birth and eight. During these years, the development of cognitive skills, emotional well-being, social competence, and good physical and mental health provide the building blocks for success well into adulthood. While learning takes place throughout life, it takes place at a pace that will never be matched in early childhood.
Play is meaningful
Children play to make sense of the world around them, and to find meaning in an experience by connecting it to something already known. Through play, children express and expand their understanding of their experiences.
Play is joyful
Look at children – or adults – playing, often smiling and laughing. Of course, play may have its frustrations and challenges (Who gets the first turn? Why can’t I make this block building stay up?), but the overall feeling is one of enjoyment, motivation, thrill and pleasure.
Play is iterative
Play and learning are not static. Children play to practice skills, try out possibilities, revise hypotheses and discover new challenges, leading to deeper learning.
Strengthening learning through play in early childhood
Everyone knows ‘play’ when they see it. A child’s play is one of the most important ways to learn essential skills and knowledge. A key element of effective educational programs lies in creating play opportunities and environments that encourage exploration, play, and hands-on learning.
The power of play can help young children develop many skills. As a result, they may become more literate, emotionally capable, creative, and socially skilled. Children benefit from play by developing their imagination and experiencing new things. Through this, they can learn essential skills such as problem-solving, working with others, sharing, and much more.
Developing strong foundations from birth is essential for children to succeed as learners. Through play-based learning, your child is able to develop critical skills, understandings, and dispositions that are essential for lifelong learning and wellbeing.
How can you contribute to your child’s learning through play?
When it comes to what type and how many toys we give to our children, we as parents should consider both their importance in the development of the child. Remember that kids don’t necessarily need more, they need better.
Although play should ideally be initiated and led by your little ones, parents can provide thoughtful provocations – materials and activities that suggest a type of play – without dictating how to play. Playtime can be made more meaningful by setting up baskets filled with balls and spoons.
By playing with educational toys, children can learn a variety of skills they will need in the future. Through educational toys, children can learn to solve problems, resolve conflicts, and derive cause-and-effect relationships. It also teaches children about sharing, helps develop their fine and gross motor skills, and nurtures their creativity and imagination.
Open-ended toys can spark creativity and imagination
You can help your child’s brain grow by giving them toys that can be played in a variety of ways. As a result, they are able to see the world more broadly. Creativity helps kids learn to think outside the box, which is important to nurture.
Toys such as blocks, dolls, animals, balls, mini-cars, or pretend food give a child a chance to make up stories about the purpose of these items. A child’s play is truly their first classroom.
Kids will quickly re-assign objects that weren’t intended to be toys as such, especially if that’s all they have. A stick, a rock, a container, a box…all of these are great candidates for helping your child boost their imagination.
Toys teach kids about STEAM
Kids have brains like sponges. They are always inputting information from their surroundings. Toys give kids another avenue to explore science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics. No matter how simple or complex a toy is, it has a lesson to teach your child and stresses the importance of toys in child development.
When your child builds a tower with blocks and eventually watches it fall to the ground, that is a lesson in physics. Watching a remote control car bounce around just from the radio waves of the controller gets kids curious about how it all works. A puzzle stimulates your child’s brain and helps them explore patterns.
Never underestimate the power of education when it comes to toys. Kids learn more through creative play because it is engaging to their senses. This gives them a cognitive edge and makes them excited to continue to explore more about the world around them. This can help them transition easier to adulthood as they have fully been able to experience being a child.