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Learning Through Play

The symbolic meaning of play began as long as man has walked this earth.

As the great philosopher, Plato (428-348B.C) said, “The most effective kind of education is that a child should play amongst lovely things.”

For that reason we see our modern world today consistently finding ways and means to incorporate play into the learning process of every child – both in schools and at home.

From a young age, play exists to be a way of life. As parents, we are aware that a child is happiest when playing. Have you ever experienced the drama of pulling a toy away from your child? That’s because play is a natural form of entertainment and learning for kids. The desire in a child to play leaves the child focused solely on his/her own actions. Though play is vital to a child’s learning process, there are different forms of play that cater to the different needs of children. Making age-appropriate choices of these toys are imperative.  

Your choice of toys should cater not only to your child’s physical development, but also to the development of the intellect (cognitive).

Materials and toys that educate through play should provide some form of interaction between the physical toy and the child. Toys that require a child to play with another child aim to build social-emotional development in children (social skills). Toys that rouse a child’s intellect include puzzles, matching games, building and construction toys and sorters (sorting shapes, buttons, etc). Such toys also give you an opportunity to bond with your child should you choose to play together. Doesn’t it sometimes feel as if your child is teaching you how to play?

As young as six months, your child begins developing concepts in language through toys that have incorporated features in music, songs and speech. It is also important to realise that the development of your child’s sensory organs (the five senses) are best at such a young age. Single out toys that provide such an awakening like soft toys, hand-held toys and musical toys.

Once your child has become a toddler between the ages of one and three, you’ll need to begin your search for toys that support his gross-motor development (the ability to manipulate muscles to accomplish various tasks such as gripping and holding a crayon).  These may include toys from the basic building blocks to the kiddy pedal cycle and the list goes on.  

Let’s not forget the toys that have specific purposes such as to reinforce concepts in Language and Mathematics. The nice thing about learning through play is that your child is never too young or old to acquire knowledge and attain new skills. With the help of all these toys from infancy to toddler, your child should be ready for more abstract toys. Flash cards of numbers, alphabets and pictures aid in your child’s development of memory and concentration. There are also numerous CDs that consist of hours of appealing educational songs (singing to addition or multiplication) that your child would simply adore. There are also interesting number and word building puzzles that the whole family can enjoy while simultaneously teaching your child the basic concepts of reading and counting!

Learning should not be demanding and over-challenging for your child. The right approach to learning can present significant results at the end of the day. And since we never stop learning throughout our lives, it is important to cultivate that interest in our young. What better and simpler way than to provide for them the means to learn through toys in a fun yet didactic manner! So start your child playing today!

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