As a parent it is not always easy to engage your children with something that is educational. They can get distracted, bored or simply become unreceptive. When a child no longer wishes to learn, they will however be willing to play. The shrewd approach here is to make sure they are learning by stealth.
First of all when children play they are learning to solve problems. how to interact with others and how to develop the fine and gross motor skills needed to grow and learn. Playing can help children do the following:
- Develop physical skills. Gross motor skills are developed as a child learns to reach, grasp, crawl, climb and balance. Fine motor skills develop slightly later as children learn to handle small toys.
- Develop cognitive concepts. Children learn to solve problems (What does this do? Does this puzzle piece fit here?) through play. Children also learn colors, numbers, size and shapes. They have the ability to enhance their memory skills as well as their attention span. Children move on to higher levels of thought as they play in a more stimulating environment.
- Develop language skills. Language develops as a child plays and interacts with others. This begins with parents playing cooing games with their children and advances to practical levels such as telling make-believe stories and jokes.
- Develop social skills. Learning to cooperate, negotiate, take turns and play by the rules are all important skills learned in early games. These skills grow as the child plays. As a result, children learn the roles and rules of society.
So what can you do as a parent to encourage learning through play. You are child’s first playmate and you have an important role to play. Interestingly children tend to be more creative when their parent is involved in play. To bring out this creativity simply observe, follow and be creative.
Group environments are really great to help children develop and learn through play. Naturally, structured play will have more benefits than free play. The right after school club or Saturday morning activity will provide this environment for structured play.
YogaBugs does this fantastically. Children are able to imagine themselves as lions or pirates, whilst enjoying physical exercise, developing self-esteem, social interaction and numeracy and literacy skills. This is real learning by stealth.