What Do Children Learn Through Play?

Playtime can be a wonderful opportuntiy for children to learn to focus their attention and build self confidence and self esteem.

Research has told us that while it may appear that all children are doing is playing for fun, it is actually a much more important part of a child's developmental process. Playing is a very natural way for children to learn because it uses all of their senses. Playtime is also a cognitive learning exercise where children practice taking in information and organizing it to solve problems and understand their environment.

Although it is important to let children play alone. There are many things that adults can do that will help our children build confidence, self esteem, focus their attention and improve their language and motor skills by interactively playing with them. These skills do not always come naturally and parents need to be taught how to be a good play partner.

WATCH AND LEARN

The first step to becoming a good play partner is to observe our child's play patterns while concentrating on what they like to do in specific ways. For example, what types of toy does your child choose to play with the most? Does your child like to figure out how it works or use the object to build something else? Often parents get in a hurry and don't take the time to sit back to watch and learn.



FOCUS ON THEIR IDEAS

After observing, it is time for parents to start playing with their child. One of the biggest mistakes parents make when playing with their child is to dominate their play. For example, If a child is building a tower from building blocks and you know the tower is to narrow and is going to fall down, it is instinctive for parents to take over. Parents will want to help reinforce the tower or show their child how to start over with a wider base to create a strong better tower. Adults may think this helps teach their child good building skills but it can also be damaging. When we take over a child's play we can send a negative message to the child that their way was the wrong way and their efforts were not good enough. Perhaps your child was not trying to build a big strong tower but rather looking forward to watching it crash! To be a good play partner you have to focus on THEIR ideas, not your own! When joining our kids playtime ask questions like "What would you like me to do?" and follow their lead.

USE "INFORMATION TALK"

Information talk is a term that speech pathologists and child development specialist use to describe the best way to vocally interact with children. In simple terms, it means to enthusiastically describe what a child is doing, using, seeing, what they are hearing and how they may be thinking or feeling. When parents and care givers describe playtime using information talk it helps kids notice their surroundings. It can also help provide them with information they can process and help them understand and use language skills as they listen to your speech patterns and sentence structure.

While describing make sure you don't overload your child with information. Keep it on their level.

Most importantly spend time with your child, down on the floor sitting at their level and help them feel loved and important part of your life.

© High Speed Ventures 2011