Kids love play.
What might not be so obvious is that a great deal of a child’s development actually comes from their playtime. Core skills, including physical, mental and emotional skills, are all learnt during play both with the child on their own and when playing with other kids.-
More often than not, playtime can prove more beneficial to a child’s learning than formal education, which in many cases can provoke unwanted and harmful levels of stress. In fact, in a recent survey conducted by TP Toys, it was revealed that over 50% of young children are struggling with emotional stress due to school homework, with 60% of parents believing that their children’s mental health was suffering because of too much homework. Playtime is, it seems, the perfect antidote to these stress levels, allowing children to learn without the pressure of grades and exams. Parents agree, with nearly 50% saying that their children would benefit more from playing outside with their friends, rather than learning through homework.
With that in mind, we’ve included our favourite ways of encouraging learning through play:
Explore the garden
The garden is the perfect place for kids to play, to get some exercise and to learn a few things along the way. The best place to start is to simply do some gardening; this hands-on activity has the benefit of guaranteed rewards, either in the pulling up of weeds, the planting of flowers, the picking of fruit or the (small) construction of a pond. Teaching the children as you go gives them a chance to learn about the natural world around them, and as an added bonus, you can get all the garden chores done and dusted! If you don’t have a garden, then community parks often have projects which children and their parents can pitch in on.
Let the music play
Kids love music, and music is a surefire way to get them to learn and play at the same time. Playing an instrument is an interactive and engaging way to teach basic counting and rhythm, while singing along with songs is a boost to many children’s literacy, teaching words in the most enjoyable way possible. Additionally, music can easily be a group activity; children singing in groups or making their own bands is an easy shortcut to encouraging social skills, teaching kids to organise and work cohesively. As for the exercise side of things, getting children dancing is a superb tactic to burn out all that excess energy.
Cook up a storm
If there’s one thing that kids love more than play, it’s food. So why not combine the two with some pretend-cooking? Fire up the fake fryers, swing open the make-believe restaurant doors, and set out with your child on their first culinary adventure. Pretending to cook food and sell it in a pretend eatery can ignite a love for cooking which can only be helpful when your child grows up. The mercantile side of things can teach important lessons such as mathematical abilities, conversational skills and more. When they’re old enough, you can also recruit them to help you in the real kitchen – in the safest way possible of course! A TP Mud Kitchen would be great for this