The importance of play is often underestimated, but it’s an essential part of children’s development. It’s not just a way for them to have fun and fill their days, it teaches them important life skills, pushes their imagination, and helps them to understand key concepts and lessons.
We take a look at exactly why play is so important for kids and how you can ensure they’re learning from playtime.
Why play is essential for kids’ development
Kids love playing. It’s fun and the best way to learn new skills. As a parent, it’s crucial to make time for play, so they practice the following skills that become crucial in later life.
Develops problem-solving skills
Playtime gives kids an opportunity to explore ideas for themselves. They’ll come up against problems and challenges in the activities and toys that they’re playing with and have to come up with their own solutions. It encourages them to learn about cause and effect, try new approaches, and learn from mistakes that they make in a safe environment.
Inspires creative thinking
Encouraging creativity can help children develop emotionally, intellectually, and socially. It gives them the confidence to come up with their own ideas and express themselves, which is an important skill for later in life.
Play is an important part of helping kids to understand the key concepts and lessons they learn. They might know how to say numbers but counting out physical objects helps them to fully understand what the numbers actually mean.
Helps with social skills
Playing with others helps kids to develop social skills that are difficult to teach. It helps them learn how to communicate, work together, listen, and share with others.
How to encourage kids to learn through play
Kids learn from play in all sorts of ways, and there’s no correct way but you should encourage a mix of guided play alongside the freedom to find their own ways to play and have fun.
Encourage imaginative play
Playtime doesn’t need to be structured and guided to be educational for kids. Giving them an opportunity to come up with their own ideas and ways to play is an important part of encouraging them to be imaginative and creative.
Set kids up with some props or some costumes for fancy dress (old clothes are perfect) and they’ll be able to come up with their own imaginary world to play for hours.
If you want to give them a little bit of guidance, then kids’ subscription boxes like the Sago Mini Box come with everything kids need for make-and-play activities based on a different theme each month. This is a great way to support their imaginative play and encourage them to learn about new things at the same time.
Cooking, baking, or simple chores like washing up can all be turned into a fun and educational activity to keep kids entertained. Getting kids involved in the kitchen from a young age will encourage them to get excited about food and teach them about flavors, tastes, and textures. And older kids can conduct cooking experiments, practice their counting skills, learn about weights, mixing different ingredients together, and reading recipes.
There are all kinds of fun recipes you can try with your children — start out with simple things like cookies or even just decorating cupcakes. And then try experimenting with savory foods as well like making their own pizzas.
If you need some ideas, then Healthy Little Foodies has lots of recipes to make with kids of all ages. Or you could just get them involved with the mealtime prep with small tasks like washing, weighing, or chopping ingredients (if they’re old enough).
Help them build a den
It’s one of the simplest ideas but building a den can teach kids a lot about teamwork, problem-solving, and trial and error. They’ll have to figure out how to make a den that stays up and come up with creative solutions when it doesn’t work. And once they’ve built a den it can be a space that’s completely their own to go and play in.
Crafting provides a lot of opportunities for kids to learn and develop their skills such as problem-solving and creative thinking. Get together a few supplies such as cardboard boxes, paint, and glue, and you can keep your kids entertained for hours building anything from animals to cars or rocket ships.
Find some inspiration in one of these craft books for kids and set them a challenge to make one of the crafts — depending on how old they are you can offer some guidance or you can leave them to it and see what they come up with.
Play is an essential part of kids’ development, and the possibilities for educational play are limitless. You just need to provide kids with some activities and ideas, but also encourage them to explore their imagination and get creative.
This article was written by our guest contributor, Kayleigh Alexandra. Kayleigh is Community Manager for Mentioned.io, a website dedicated to bridging the gap between bloggers and brands. She has a long track record of writing copy, editing content and managing the relationship between creatives and clients.