Children use many skills at once during play
When children play they don’t think about playing to gain new skills. Nevertheless, play creates many learning opportunities. For example, when children try to complete a puzzle in a group setting, they not only train motor skills (picking up puzzle pieces), but also reasoning (where each piece goes) and social skills (communicating with others).
Children are ‘hands-on’ learners
Children acquire knowledge and skills through meaningful interactions with objects and others. Instead of passively consuming knowledge, they dictate and create their own experience. This is why hands-on learning is so useful when children face new, abstract concepts. For example when a child begins to explore geometry, it’s much easier for them to understand that stacking two squares forms a rectangle rather than explaining the theory behind it.
Play in a social setting
Playing with others also helps develop important social and emotional skills. These skills are crucial for having positive interactions with others. Through play, children learn how to establish relationships, collaborate, negotiate, resolve conflicts, and more. Aside from concrete social-emotional skills, children begin to understand how to empathize with others to resolve conflicts, gradually picking up unwritten social rules along the way.
More examples of ways children learn through play
- Learning through trial and error using reasoning and problem-solving skills
- “My building fell down, I’ll need to build it up again”
- Making a plan and following through with it
- “I want to draw my father first, then my mother, then my siblings, then I will color them in!”
- Acting in a logical, analytical manner to problem-solve
- “Pieces of my puzzle are missing, which ones do you think will fit?”
- Communicating and negotiating with others to resolve conflict
- “I want to be the fireman. Could you be the policeman? Or the doctor?”
- Develop creativity through art
- “What do you think will happen if I mix these two colors together?”
- Being satisfied/proud of what they have accomplished
- “We finally finished it!”