As a parent, you likely know that your child wants to play with almost everything that is in their environment. When they are infants, this play may look like grabbing and touching things. When they are toddlers, they may gravitate toward certain toys or want to play with other children. What you may not realize is that play is more than just fun – it is essential for a child’s brain to grow and develop. It is helpful to know why playing is important and how you can help your child learn through play.
Why is Play Important?
According to the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), children develop a wide array of crucial life skills while they are playing. They learn cognitive skills, physical abilities, literacy skills, and social skills (if they are playing with other children). More specifically, they learn fine motor skills, problem-solving skills, concentration, conflict resolution, and sharing with others. They can also discover a sense of independence which contributes to positive self-esteem. Play provides them with a place to practice skills that they may have learned during school or at home. For example, if a child is learning to read and write, they may play a game where they are a schoolteacher who is teaching a child to read. In this way, they are able to practice reading and writing in a fun, stress-free environment.
Beyond the cognitive skills, the play also teaches a child to use their imagination and encourages their adventurous side. Many children create whole worlds from playing with their dolls or toy soldiers. If a child is playing outside, they can use almost any object in the outdoor setting to help them play an adventure game. Whatever the type of play you want your child to do to aid in development, make sure it is fun for them. Give them some choices when heading into playtime.
Activities to Learn Through Play
Play in a Sandbox
Most playgrounds have a sandbox that children will gather in to play. With just a bucket and a shovel, a child can get creative playing in the sand. Some children will build a small sandcastle, practice filling a bucket and emptying it, or play with the other children who are there. This type of play develops physical and social abilities.
Arts and Crafts
This category of play encompasses an infinite amount of activities. Your child may want to play with clay, Play-Doh, or slime to help them learn to mold and shape things into objects. They may want to draw or paint using different colors and different mediums, such as a piece of paper or a small canvas. You can help your child with paper mache or take them to a kid-friendly pottery class where you help them create something from scratch. Using arts and crafts as a form of play helps a child be creative. They feel independent in making something of their own design and can express feelings in a unique way.
When a child uses building blocks, such as fake bricks or Legos, they learn the steps of building an object from their imagination. With this type of play, a child learns how to see the smaller steps to a bigger picture. There are a variety of toys like this offered, so you can be sure to find something that your child will like.
Take it Easy
While learning through play is important for a child’s development, do not push your child too hard when they are playing. Help them find fun ways to play that will stimulate their brains, but allow them to rest when they are tired or cranky. Forcing play when they are not in the mood will make it unenjoyable for them. This could minimize play’s positive impacts.
Child Care in Las Vegas
“Where can I find great child care near me?” you may be wondering. For Las Vegas parents who want their child to successfully learn through play, check out Wonderschool. We know it is important to find a quality child care service that will continue this work during the day. At Wonderschool, we offer a variety of child care services in Las Vegas, from in-home child care to daycare to preschool options. We will match you with a custom list of providers near you that you can explore to find which best meets your child’s unique needs. Visit our website to learn more about Las Vegas child care options.