The ABC’s of Learning Through Play K-O

ABC's of Learning Through Play

K is for Kindness

Through play children learn pro-social behavior. Pro-social behavior is a voluntary concern and caring for other people’s welfare and acting in ways that show this concern. Pro-social behavior includes empathy, sharing, kindness, helping, sympathy and cooperation. Children that learn pro-social behavior tend to have more friends, do better in their education, and are overall well rounded. The first way that children learn pro-social behaviors through play is through pretend play and role playing. By acting out different scenarios children are allowed to experiment with pro-social and non pro-social behavior. When children pretend play with others, the benefits of learning pro-social behaviors increases because they need to cooperate with others to act out a certain scenario. Another way children learn pro-social behavior through play is by simply playing with other children. When children express non pro-social behavior, being mean or pushing someone, the other children will react in a way that will serve as a negative reinforcement. Be sure to praise and provide positive reinforcement when you see your child exhibiting pro-social behavior. For more on developing Empathy head HERE and HERE.

Learning Through Play

L is for Language Development

Language development happens when children are at play. By engaging in pretend play with others, children build their language skills through negotiating, cooperating, and acting out their roles. Pretend play also allows children to encounter new scenarios which allows them to learn new words and word associations. Sensory bins and other kinds of sensory play are also great ways to explore different words and their meanings. By experiencing things being “squishy”, “soft” or “hard”, children learn new vocabulary and concepts through their senses. Adults can expand language development by asking children open ended questions during play. When a child is drawing a picture, an example of an open ended question would be, “how does that picture make you feel?”.

Language Development

M is for Messy Play

We talked briefly about messy play when talking about hands-on play. Messy play can be intimidating and may even cause some anxiety at the beginning. However, there are ways to ease your comfort and still provide your child with the great learning opportunity messy play provides. Messy play allows for learning through all the senses. Messy play is a tactile experience that allows children to learn about texture. To keep messy play less messy, here are few tips. First, use a “mess mat”. We use a plastic shower curtain liner purchased at the dollar store to go under any messy activity or project. Also, consider moving messy play outdoors or better yet, in the bathtub! For more ideas on how to overcome a fear of messy play go HERE. For some fun messy play ideas try finger painting or sensory bins.

Messy Play

N is for Numbers

Children explore and learn math concepts through play. Through play, children learn about size, shape, numbers, and quantity. We already talked about how blocks are a great way to learn these concepts. Another great way for children to learn math concepts through play is sensory bins. Give children measurement cups and tools to use in the sensory bin or while in the bath and they will have fun while learning. Cooking and baking with your child is another great way for them to learn these concepts while playing. Using play dough in pretend play is another great way.

Learning Through Play

O is Open Ended Play

When planning activities, art projects, or buying toys, try to find ones that are open ended. By that I mean, they do not focus on the end result and instead allow for trial and error and unlimited possibilities. Some such materials would be blocks, legos, playdough, water, paint, sand etc. These materials are perfect for allowing open ended play which is so beneficial to children. Open ended play allows children to build their creativity. Creativity is so important in almost all aspects of child development and open ended play is a great way to build it.

Learning Through Play Playdough
Be sure to check back tomorrow for letters P-T of the ABC’s of Learning Through Play. I will be adding each post HERE as they are posted.

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