Learning Through Play #TeachMeTuesday By Mary Wolff

What is Play?

To play means to engage in an activity for enjoyment and recreation rather than for practical purpose. Numerous studies have shown that play is an extremely important part in the cognitive, social and emotional development of children.

Why is Play so Important?

Play engages children in developing fundamental skills, which will form the foundation for a love of learning.

  • Play-based learning capitalizes on children’s natural curiosity and aids the learning process by connecting their senses with new language
  • Play links to improvements in areas of problem-solving, language acquisition, literacy, numeracy, social skills, physical development, hearing and vision
  • Play engages children’s attention when it offers a challenge that is within a child’s capacity to master
  • Play means practice in choosing, generating possibilities and taking risks
  • Children use language and thinking skills to compare, plan, problem-solve, negotiate and evaluate in play
  • Physical movement, personal interest connections, social contacts, music, novelty, sense of achievements, intrinsic reward and choice are all parts of play that release dopamine and engage your child’s memory
  • Children who engage in quality play experiences are more likely to have well-developed memory skills, language development and are better able to regulate their behaviour leading to enhanced school adjustment and academic success

cole and mary play and learn

Let’s Learn Through Play

The variety and quality of play children engage in increases when adults join in or facilitate. There are several ways you can facilitate your child’s learning during play:

  1. Role-model positive attitudes towards play. Engage in and extend play with your child, providing a balance of indoor and outdoor play throughout the year.
  2. Consider how you will construct and present activities and materials. They should be arranged in a provoking and inviting way to encourage exploration, learning and inquiry. It is important to offer a variety of materials and experiences at varying levels of difficulty. A choice of materials provides the motivation for your child to explore and discover.
  3. Observe carefully as your child begins to use toys, materials and equipment. Observation is an ongoing process, providing information about your child’s interests, abilities and strengths. Observation helps identify ways adults can build on and guide learning.
  4. Listen, repeat and ask open ended questions.
  5. Extend your child’s natural observation by providing the language necessary to help them articulate what they are seeing, creating or experiencing.
  6. Discuss and summarize key concepts that emerge as your child explores, makes hypotheses, solves problems and recognizes similarities and differences.
  7. Most importantly, have fun with your child! Experiences make lasting memories.

Mary_HeadshotMary Wolff

As R.E.C.E, Executive Director and Co-founder of Smart Cookie Club, Mary provides a positive perception, a sense of understanding and unique ideas to support and educate children, parents and caregivers.


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