Play does more than just entertain young children – it also has tons of other benefits like alleviating stress and keeping kids healthy and strong. It is also considered as one of the most effective ways of helping children aged zero to three learn about the world they live in and the necessary skills they need to thrive in it.
Making education fun by incorporating it in playtime is arguably the most effective teaching strategy that the best nursery in Dubai uses. It helps boost cognitive development in toddlers and fosters exploration that is believed to shape the structural design of the human brain.
To learn more about the importance of play for your little one, below is a list of its top five benefits and how it can be incorporated in early learning:
- Play Helps Improve Communication Skills
Whether a child plays alone or with his peers, he gets the chance to develop essential communication skills like speech and listening. During solitary play, he gets to narrate the actions he makes and talk to his toys while pretend playing. He also learns to communicate his thoughts to other children to share his ideas and establish ground rules for the type of game they’re trying to play.
Adults can supplement the children’s existing vocabulary by throwing in new words into play. This is the very reason why guided play is considered the ideal setting for learning the language. With exposure to new words when asked questions and conversing with adults, children, in turn, enrich their vocabulary.
- It Fosters Pre-Literacy Skills
During the early stages of learning, children develop six pre-literacy skills, including:
● Print motivation – the enjoyment of and interest in books
● Print awareness – the skill to handle books and follow written words on a page, and awareness that there are prints everywhere
● Letter knowledge – knowing that letters differ from each other (i.e., sounds and names)
● Vocabulary – knowing different kinds of words
● Phonological awareness – hearing and playing with sounds of words
● Narrative skills – the skills to describe things, narrate a story or learn the order of events
Since certain types of guided play in nurseries and kindergarten involve plenty of singing and rhyming, children get to recognize new sounds, learn new words, and understand the order of narration. It also sharpens their memorization skills and ensures that they have the ability to differentiate the sounds from one another, no matter how small the variations are.
- It Improves Social and Emotional Skills
Literacy aside, children also get to enjoy many social and emotional benefits when engaged in play-based learning. Collaborative games, for example, help them enjoy social experiences with their peers and learn how to cooperate, share, negotiate, and be assertive of what they want.
In the same manner, children get to understand how to work through their emotions when playing with their peers. They are able to communicate what they feel and sort through it productively. This is why educators recommend that parents extend the benefits outside of school by setting up a playgroup or play dates with the same children to solidify their friendships.
- It Teaches Critical Thinking
When children can analyze and sort the information that they get from their environment to make sense of it, they are able to think critically. This skill is crucial for a child’s cognitive development and has been known to be learned in play. Critical thinking involves the front part of the brain, which is also responsible for attention, memory, flexibility, and control.
- It Supports Creativity
When a child learns critical thinking and other cognitive skills, he also gets to exercise his creativity. It manifests in a child’s ability to play pretend and imagine that things around him are different from what they actually are, a period which usually starts when a child is two years old.
Playing with common household items and using them to symbolize other things is a sign that the child is creative. Some of the best examples include using drink coasters as a plate for cookies, using a regular stick as a pretend fishing pole, and assuming a variety of roles like a doctor, a pilot, or even a parent.
Studies revealed that children who engage in pretend play are more likely to have sophisticated interactions and higher levels of cognitive abilities compared to those who don’t.
Children who play are statistically more likely to learn faster in school and in the real world. The power of play cannot be underestimated, which is why many early education institutions like nurseries and kindergartens incorporate play-based learning in their curriculum.