How Children Really Learn, Is It Through Play Alone?

We know that children learn through play which is true, if they are having fun they are more engaged and it is a lot easier to learn by exploring and doing. However, playing isn’t the only way for them to learn in fact they learn the mostly from us – watching, listening and imitating everything we do.

Over the summer, we didn’t play much as we made the most of being able to enjoy days out and about again which after being stuck at home over the lockdowns was a little overwhelming and exhausting.

This meant the girls wanted to chill in front of the tv or were happily playing with their toys so I didn’t set up many structured activities or actively played with them but just because I haven’t been playing it doesn’t mean we haven’t been connecting or that I haven’t been encouraging their learning.

Have you noticed that when your little one starts talking they often repeat phrases you say often? They absorb everything around them and they are often listening even if we don’t think they are.

We chatted and listened to each other whilst we enjoyed other activities. Guessing games in the car, pointing out what we can see, hear, or feel on walks or in the garden & just discussing different things with each other in general has expanded their general knowledge, vocabulary and also given us the connection to strengthen our bond & relationships.

I have been thinking a lot about how much talking, has an impact on our children’s development and if talking alone can help their development then combining talking with playing can really help their development boom!

However, I know not everyone feels confident chatting away and may not know what to talk about during play to enhance their child’s learning so here’s my top tips to help get you started:

Comment on what you are doing, what you can see/smell/hear or how something makes your feel. By chatting about what you are doing will enhance your little ones vocabulary and give context to the words. (This doesn’t have to be limited to play, during every day tasks is great too)

Think about all the things we know now but that your little one may not. What would you have found interesting, fun and exciting when little – remember the more engaged they are the better they learn.

Having something to give you a starting point of what to talk about can really help and once you start you will find you can’t stop chatting about that subject. Books are fantastic for this and also my themed educational activity boxes – Tot’s Playtime Box.

So, if you want to encourage your little one’s learning and development, don’t put too much pressure on yourself to set up fancy and time-consuming activities, remember the most important thing is to talk and connect with your little one and they will be learning all the time.

Interested in Tot’s Playtime Box?

I have started collaborating with the wonderful Lindsey Manoharan, an experienced Speech & Language Therapist and founder of Communicating Matters to help families talk and learn whilst playing. Included in the box is a variety of play activities set around a specific theme which includes an activity designed by Lindsey to promote language, communication & vocabulary plus talking tips throughout the activities to give you prompts on what to chat about.

“Good language and communication skills are the foundation for all learning and the medium through which all formal learning is delivered. Yet, simply allowing your child to lead the conversation, building on what they say and giving your child the time to respond are hugely effective techniques to create confident talkers and confident learners. The best is that this magic can all be achieved while playing!” – Lindsey Manoharan

I love to connect with mum’s & dad’s, so if you enjoy It’s Playtime Tots tips, advice & activities please feel free to join my supportive community on Facebook & share your photo’s & ideas with us as well as give & receive more support to navigate our way through raising our little ones.

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Would you like to understand how you can support your child’s learning & development at home through play?

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