Children are naturally curious of their surroundings and environment.  As such, this is how they learn and discover new things about themselves and about how to be in a certain environment.  Asking a toddler to sit down, be still and pay attention in a classroom may be asking too much of them; after all, they don’t wiggle for their benefit!  They simply cannot help it!

That being said, allowing them to learn, discover and explore new things doesn’t just help them to grow, it helps them with other important skills such as problem-solving, focus and even social skills and manners.  So how can a parent support their children in learning and developing faster?  How can a parent allow their child to play AND develop at the same time, and more importantly, how can a parent TEACH through PLAY?

How To Teach Through Play

Teaching through play can be fun for both adults and children.  It is an exploratory process for both:  the parents are learning about their child and discovering how their child’s own personal and unique style, while the child is exploring new things.  Here are a few things you can do as a parent to teach through play:

1)    Allow your children to explore (keep them safe of course)

Children are naturally curious and it can be in the habit of some parents to restrict their child to certain areas of the house.  Naturally parents do this in order to keep an eye on them and to keep them safe, but allocating some time every day to allow your child to explore the rest of the house, supervised, leaves them happy and ready to grow.

Additionally, you can find new things to do for your child so that they don’t get bored.  For example, making some colourful moon sand or slime for them, and giving them utensils and tools to play with can keep them occupied for hours!

2)    Allow your children to fall down…this is part of the learning process

While keeping your child safe and out of harm’s way is natural for a parent, there is a point where too much over-protection can actually hinder your child from developing or exploring.

In order to keep your child in exploratory mode, and not shrink back in fear every time something new presents itself, celebrate “little” mistakes.  When they fall down, which is normal and bound to happen (especially when they are learning to walk), celebrate it!  Applaud their blunder.  This will also support them in celebrating their mistakes in the future and not allowing a simple mistake to stop them from progressing forward in their career.

3)    Interact with them, and observe how they play (visual, auditory, kinesthetic)

As stated earlier, teaching your child through play is an exploratory process for them AS WELL AS for you.  Here you can discover how it is they are naturally:  do they make eye contact with you when you speak to them?  Are they sociable with other children, making lots of friends fast, or do they sit back and watch other children first?  Do they go around and make a big mess of all the toys at once?  Do they talk or babble nonstop?  Answering these questions can support you in determining if your child learns more through auditory, visual or kinesthetic means.

Additionally, ask your child lots of questions that make them think even if they aren’t quite talking yet.  They understand a lot more than many people think.  “Do you think the circle fits in the square hole?” And “what colour do you think this is?”  Open-ended questions will also get their brain working, “What do you like about this toy?”

4)    Sing songs

Singing songs is a great way to get your child to learn simple things such as ABC’s and counting.  Make a lesson into a song and your child may learn things much faster than simply repeating the lesson every day.

5)    Let them “help” you with chores

Some children love helping mommy and daddy with chores, whether that is washing dishes, folding laundry or even cooking.  Feeling helpful is important to them, so let them help you!  I know that sometimes they unintentionally make a bigger mess of things, but it supports them in building their self-confidence and even in building a stronger bond with mommy or daddy.

What I used to do with my daughter would be to give her a couple of washcloths to fold while I folded the rest of the clothes.  She would be entertained the whole time while I am getting household chores done.  By the time I finished, I would tell her how proud I was of her, and celebrate her effort.  Now that she is older, she has no problem helping mommy with household chores (and now she can actually do them)!  It turned out to be a win/win scenario in my household!

In summary, teaching children through play supports them and you as their parent in learning, growing and developing.  This is why Little Human Scholars Preschool, Playschool and Daycare centre is a play-based school in Petaling Jaya near University Hospital, PJ Old Town and PJ New Town:  children tend to learn faster when they are having fun.  There isn’t even a need to motivate them because when something is “fun,” they naturally want to participate.

Through observing your child, you can cheerfully begin to see their little personality and preferences come out while understanding how they learn more deeply.  Once you know how it is they learn, you can apply what works for them in their future lessons and homework!

Wishing you fun and fulfilling parental experiences!

Jana Moreno