Kids love to play, but it can easily be mistaken for a bit of fun and a break from more formal education. For young children, play is actually an essential part of their development. Playing at home allows kids to learn social skills and improve their problem-solving abilities. It also allows them to express their creativity. It also increases their confidence and self-esteem. It’s truly amazing how kids can learn through play so effortlessly!
How Kids Learn Through Play
Playing helps kids understand how the world works. It can help children reinforce and fully understand concepts that they’ve been taught. For example, they may be able to repeat back to you counting from 1-10. Counting physical objects as part of their play can help them get a better grasp of what the numbers mean. This doesn’t just have to be done with specific counting toys: counting out household items as part of play activities will work just as well.
There are important skills such as interacting with others, which are harder to teach in more formal educational settings. Through playing, kids will be able to communicate and collaborate with others. Since it’s part of their fun, these skills will develop naturally. They’ll learn key social skills such as sharing, listening, and overcoming differences.
Problem solving and creativity
Playing will give kids the freedom to experience and deal with a range of different problems. It gives them freedom to test their ideas, and express themselves. They’ll be able to learn about cause and effect, and learn from their mistakes without judgement.
Learn Through Play at Home
There’s really no right or wrong way for kids to learn through play – it can be structured, guided, or free play. The most important thing is that they’re able to make their own choices. They’re guided in their play but not completely directed.
There’s a whole world of possibilities in your own backyard when it comes to playing. Avoid being cooped up all day and get outside for an adventure. Finding creepy crawly bugs or spotting birds will help kids engage with the natural world. Your backyard is a safe space to explore wildlife, experience weather and learn something about nature.
You could even have a go at some gardening projects. Try simple activities like weeding and watering, or even plant seeds (something easy like sunflowers!) and watch them grow over the following weeks. Kids will learn about caring for other things, and how things grow and change over time.
Of course, kids can make their own fun outside – digging holes, finding secret corners of the garden, or whatever they want! It all helps build their skills and experiences.
It can get a bit messy, but crafting activities offer endless learning opportunities. With a few supplies, kids can craft for hours, learn critical thinking, problem-solving and let their imagination run wild.
Crafting doesn’t have to be expensive either. You could collect your (clean) recycling like cardboard and plastic boxes, with a bit of glue and paint, kids will be able to make anything from hats to rockets. There’s plenty of objects around the house that will be perfect for crafting activities, and you can easily find plenty of project inspiration online.
Music, Singing & Dancing
Music can keep kids entertained for hours. Give them the freedom to pick what they want to listen to and they can create their own dance routine. It might seem like just a bit of fun but it can help them develop their language skills, counting and rhythm, plus they’ll be getting some exercise. If you can handle the noise, try making instruments from household items, and let the kids create their own songs.
Not all playtime needs to be structured or guided. Giving kids to come up with their own games and explore their imagination is really important. Give them a few props; old clothes for fancy dress, household items or an activity box, and they’ll be able to create their own make-believe world, with endless possibilities for playing and learning.
Imaginative play can help with everything from intellectual reasoning to communication, and it’ll help boost their creativity and confidence.
Build a Den
It sounds so simple, but building a den isn’t just super exciting for kids, it’s also going to teach them some key skills such as problem solving and teamwork. Whether it’s in the middle of the living room or outside in the garden, putting their den together requires creativity and logical thinking. They’ll have to learn how to overcome obstacles as they construct their den and find different ways to hold it up.
Playing at home provides so many opportunities for encouraging and developing important life skills that kids will rely on later in life. It’s important to find a balance between structured, guided play, and giving them the opportunity for imaginative play where they have the freedom to express themselves and explore their own ideas.