Children love toys..
Whether it’s their favourite superhero, something shiny and loud or the act of unboxing a new gift, most kids are happy to have any toy.
And here’s the thing, it’s because of this that playing with toys has become the reward we give children after they do something good like completing their homework or a hard lesson of learning.
But the more we learn about how children ‘really’ learn, the more we have discovered how toys can go from simple play things to powerful learning tools.
In fact, recent educational research is revealing that environments where children ‘learn through play’ rapidly develop important foundations like self-esteem, resilience, concentration and even motivation.
And you might be wondering, ‘all these benefits and more from playing with toys?’
Let me explain-
What makes learning through play different?
We were taught that traditional classroom learning, with structured teacher-led lessons where kids are ‘prepared for school’ is the norm, right? Well, this is quickly changing. You see, while structured lessons are great for rote learning (memorization) and transferring subject matter from teacher to student.
Kids often miss out on the chance to interact. Children miss out on:
- Forming essential connections with their peers
- Naturally navigating problems using intuition and problem solving
- Learning as they live (lifelong learners)
And these are the skills they will rely on as they grow. Which is why play based learning works like magic. Because play gives children the opportunity to naturally form connections, to navigate problems in real-time and to naturally learn.
How does learning through play work?
Learning through play is a method of learning where teachers work alongside children to help them understand key concepts through hands-on activities. Learning through play is quickly becoming the norm in childcare centres. It’s not as simple as ‘pick up any toy and play’.
In fact, the right educational toys allow children to build sensory and tactile skills at a rapid pace while they form connections with the world around them. And yet learning requires very little effort as children are having fun.
Learning experiences that happen during play, allow children to navigate and understand themselves and their peers better. Which leads to more confidence, well-developed problem solving ability and a deep rooted understanding of relationships.
At Learning Links we support children in play based learning environments with different educational toys for all age groups (0 – 5 years-old). Teachers work alongside children throughout this process, helping to build fundamental skills that will carry over into primary school and beyond.
What types of toys are ‘educational’?
For children between the ages of 2 – 6, look for educational toys that help teach shape recognition, colour, size, number recognition and letter recognition. These toys come in the form of puzzles, building blocks and even shape sorters. And, they’ll keep children entertained for hours (while they learn important fundamentals).
Learning through play is the simple way to help children learn and grow, while keeping them engaged. In fact, learning through play forms the pedagogical foundation of Te Whariki the New Zealand early childhood curriculum. And is becoming a common approach in junior school primary classrooms.