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The Benefits of Learning through Playing

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How much of your children's early learning is, in fact, play-based learning? This is not necessarily the same as learning via a leisure activity, such as watching an educational television program or playing a learning video game, but the actual physical interaction with the toys, play materials, or activity in question. Whether by activities at your children's early learning centre or by playing at home, what type of play-based actions have the potential to assist with your children's development? Continue reading to see the types of play you can incorporate in your home or learning facility. 

The Five Types of Play

There are five types of play which can be beneficial in terms of a child's development: physical play, symbolic play, play with rules, play with objects, and pretence play. Of course, there are many aspects of these classifications which can intersect. For example, a child could easily undertake a type of pretence play which involves objects (toys). By engaging with the activity, interacting with the required tools, and interacting with any other participants, your child can subconsciously reinforce certain skill sets while doing something as simple as playing. Research has suggested that play can stimulate synaptic growth in children, encouraging the development of higher mental functioning.

So what types of activity could be beneficial?

Suggested Play Activities

  • Physical play could cover simple games that don't require any equipment, such as hide and seek or tag (and all its variants).

  • Symbolic play can be an imagined game or scenario (such as roleplay) wherein necessary tools can be represented by something completely different. A stick can become a horse, a plastic bottle can become a spaceship.

  • Playing with rules and playing with objects could be covered by using certain toys, namely building blocks. A child could learn to construct an object by following the given instructions that were included with the set, as well as discarding the instructions and building something of their own devising.

  • Pretence play can be as simple as using toy puppets, allowing children to inhabit a character and performing as the character, whether by improvisation or by determining a storyline (or both).

Of course, this list is not exhaustive, but it gives you an idea as to what constitutes the types of beneficial play. Generally, if a child is actively engaged in play, using their imagination, and enjoying what they are doing, they are going to be learning while they play.