31 October 2011 ~ 0 Comments

The value of playing

Sometimes our motto as parents and even teachers is ‘just let them play.’

Some adults will use their child’s playtime as a time to organise and get on with chores. Teachers are guilty of catching up with marking or doing a wall display instead of interacting with their children.

Some children can use free play time constructively and some children will flounder and miss out on valuable learning experiences as they are not yet able to effectively organise their own time. It is during these valuable play times that we need to help our children to grow in confidence and independence to use their skills and use their ideas, knowledge and curiosities.

This quote reminds us that we should stop and ‘notice’ our children at play.

Taking an interest in what students are thinking and doing is often as much more powerful form of encouragement than praise.
—Robert Martin

Children learn through play

It is a well established fact that children learn through play

It is important to remember that it is the quality of learning experiences that we provide our children with that counts. We all learn from things we enjoy. Children enjoy play, thus will learn through playing. Quality and meaningful play is born from the experiences provided by teachers and parents.

The adults role during play

  • Every child should play every day. Provide this opportunity for your child.
  • Don’t ignore your child as they play. Try to get to know when to intervene and when to allow your child to play uninterrupted while still showing an interest.
  • Play should be something a child enjoys. Do not provide over complicated activities.
  • Provide choice and freedom, but do not over indulge with toys/activities all in one session. Children will flit between activities and gain no meaningful quality experiences.
  • If your child finds it hard to stick at an activity until completion, adopt the timer method. Provide an egg timer ( base the time on your own child’s ability). Encourage your child to stay at a chosen activity until the time runs out.
  • Do not forget about the great outdoors. Use hoops, skipping ropes, bats, balls, bicycles etc.
  • Use the natural materials around you. It could be old boxes, pebbles, egg cartons and tubs. All these things are great especially for junk art and model making.
  • Encourage thinking skills. Use a ‘plan, do, review’ time. Your child could talk about what they will do, how they will do it and then tell you about their experiences.

Ideas for play time activities

  • Art/craft
  • Role play (dressing up / small world toys such as farm yard animals / dolls / cars)
  • Building ( Lego / blocks)
  • Writing (blackboard / pens)
  • Reading ( range of books / pillows to sit on)
  • Computer time (Internet / games)
  • Water play ( fill a basin / boats / containers for pouring).
Options and choices are important, but set a choice between 3 or 4 activities at one time.
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