Almost every educator has stated the importance of play. Almost the entire influential educators, be it Maria Montessori or Friedrich Froebel, has included play in the models of learning which they have developed.
Learning through play is about how a child can learns so that he can understand the world around them. Through play children develop the skills which are required to understand and practice the skills which they will need when they grow up.
No study can prove enough the importance of play in the early childhood learning. In the earlier times when the people were not equipped with the current education “tools”, they devised plays to make their younger ones understand the real world and hence learn the life skills needed. Not just then, even today it would not be possible to make a child understand, with instructions, the things that you want to make them learn. Only play could do that.
Being a parent or even any adult in a child’s life, it is important to support a child in its play and help them learn.
- The first thing is to provide them with their “Play Material”. For example the toys like a simple kitchen set, or a carpenter tool set, dolls or cars etc. for us it may not look that important but for the child it is their reality. They pretend to cook in the kitchen and when they are growing up you find them in kitchen, helping you.
- Next is to get involved in their play. As said earlier, play is the child’s world. For you they are playing but for them they are performing real world tasks. So get involved and show them how to do things. Use the vocabulary. It is how they will learn most of it.
- Showing emotions is also important. If you get involved fully you will understand them better. Get happy when they finish building that tool truck. Pretend that you are hurt when playing the thief-cop chase. Each play will bring out various emotions in them and you must reflect back.
- Focus on overall learning. Taking them outdoors to connect to nature is important too. Let them play in the puddle and get dirty. Let them get wet in the rains with their friends. Build them that tree house in your back yard. Get under the sky in a tent for star gazing and tell them about them. Go fishing. Collect leaves. Paint a pot. Climb trees. Collect stones. There is no limit to the play world. Everything could be a toy. Every place could be a classroom.
Remember, it’s not just play, it is an undisputed and the ONLY effective means of learning for the little one.