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The Benefits of Learning Through Play
Learning through play is a key component of child development and early education.
Today, I’m going to share how learning through play can help young children build important skills, and different ways you can support free play at home or in the classroom.
As a parent and early childhood educator, I can’t stress enough profound purpose of learning through play.
Theories of play were first developed centuries ago, proving play-based learning is imperative for early childhood development. Early childhood theorists, such as Jean Piaget and Lev Vygotsky, emphasize the relationship between play and cognitive development.
According to Early Childhood News, research indicates that children learn best in an environment which allows them to explore, discover, and play.
Based on my early childhood education, 17 years experience as a teacher and as a parent of two, I strongly believe in the benefits of active engagement of pure play.
Benefits of Learning Through Play
Research shows the benefits of play during the early years will help the human mind well beyond early development. The best thing about learning through play is it’s FUN!
First, let’s look at the definition of play. In relevance to this article, the Merriam Webster dictionary states play is “activities that are done especially by children for fun or enjoyment”.
Now that you know the definition of play for young people, let’s look at the important ways children’s play helps a child’s development.
Social Skills, Communication Skills, and Cognitive Development
If you do a search on cognitive development, it is likely you will find many articles about Jean Piaget’s theory of cognitive development. For the purpose of this article, I am going to refer to SimplyPsychology.org, to show you how pretend play and unstructured play build cognitive skills, language skills, and social skills. A child’s development skills are gained through children’s play, early learning programs, at home and through primary education at elementary schools.
- Construct a sense of the world within their physical space
- Learn critical thinking skills
- Learn problem-solving skills
- Build social relationships through social interaction with peers
- Build fine motor skills
- Gain new knowledge of objects through physical play
- Increase hand-eye coordination
- Build social development, or social-emotional skills (i.e. express feelings, self-image, listen and pay attention, show affection, ask for help)
- Build vocabulary as they describe what things are, how they feel, etc.
- Learn new ways to have conversations with peers
- Learn executive function skills such as self control, working memory, timing, organization, etc.
Toys that Support the Power of Play
While new toys bring new experiences, they don’t all encourage active play. In other words, some toys are better than others if you are promoting sociodramatic play, or other types of play.
Here is a list of toys I recommend for better quality play opportunities:
Appropriate Toys for Role Play
- Play sink with dishes
- Doctor Kit
- Pet Care Vet Kit
- Construction Worker play kit
- Grocery Store Stand
- Police Dress Up Kit for Kids
- Superhero Dress Up Kit
- Astronaut Dress Up
- Wooden Tool Box for Kids
- Camping Play Set for Kids
Toys for Playful Learning and Creativity
- Magnetic Tiles
- Wooden Building Blocks
- Large Plastic Building Blocks
- Cardboard Building Bricks
- Wooden City Blocks
- Dinosaur Large Marble Run Set
- Flower Garden Building Set
- Building Discs
- Creative Mosaic Drill Set for Kids
- Mr. Potato Head and accessories
- Cash Register
- Aqua Doodle Mat
Magnets are not only fun toys for kids, they are also useful household and business tools. You can find magnets on refrigerators, in medical devices, on appliances, and in electronic devices such as fans, speakers, and headphones. But, since my goal is to keep learning fun, I want to focus on the learning and creativity that takes place when kids play with magnetic blocks.
Magnetic blocks are a perfect toy to promote learning through play. After years of observing children play with magnetic building blocks, I can easily say these toys for kids inspire creativity and imagination. As children play with magnetic blocks, you will observe skills such as building structures, understanding the concepts of adding and subtracting as they add and remove magnets from their structures, problem solving, and language development.
Toy Subscription Box for Kids
If you love educational toys, but don’t like the clutter, check out the ToyLibrary subscription box for kids. With ToyLibrary, your kids play, return, and repeat! Their collection of new and curated toys includes more than 500+ educational & STEM toys (such as LEGO, Disney, Marvel, Vtech etc.) to keep children engaged in learning.
Did you know ToyLibrary won multiple national awards and is used by 250,000 families? They are an eco-friendly service and donate toys for children in need. I love this concept because it helps prevent the growing problem with digital addition with children. With less screen time, and more engagement with actual toys, children develop important motor and sensory skills. Furthermore, the decrease in screen time significantly improves the child’s mental health development.
- Educational Subscription Boxes for Kids
- Arts and Crafts Subscription Boxes for Kids
- Fun STEM and Science Subscription Boxes for Kids
Learning through play is an essential part of childhood. It is the foundation of one’s perspective on learning, builds creativity and language, promotes problem solving skills, and opens the doors for extended learning opportunities in a natural setting.
Before you go, here is a blog post you may enjoy: