As easy as ABC ... Learning through play.
Did you know, school isn't the only place where our kids learn?
They are always on ... listening and learning when they are watching you. Kids take in everything around them. They learn what they see and what others are doing. They also learn when they are having fun and playing.
Lots of children have headed off into the new school world for the first time recently. I remember wondering how much Lucas would need to know before he went to school. Did he need to know the alphabet, recognise all the letters and to be able to say them out loud in this new world he was about to start?
Let’s not forget about those that are not quite old enough to head to school either. You know the ones, the child that is SO ready to learn but is at home for a little longer, bugging you for something to do because they crave the mental stimulation.
We love the idea that while the kids are playing they are also learning. One of our criteria for selecting toys is this simple question:
Does it help with the child's development?
Whether fine motor skills, shape, colour or letter recognition. We love a toy that helps the kids to learn.
That’s why we have a theme dedicated to learning while they play. ABC and 123
Of course - learning while you play is not a new idea. People have been using the fun of play time to help with keeping kids entertained and learning for a long time.
So to help answer my questions about what kids need to know when they head to school,
I asked Chrissie from Chaos to Calm Consultancy. Chrissie is a bahaviour consultant who works with families and children.
When you're thinking of school readiness ask yourself:
Can your child sit and listen for an extended period of time?
Can your child wait their turn?
Can your child follow simple instructions and answer direct questions?
Can your child share and get along with other children?
Parents can start to prepare their child for more formal learning by: exposing them to letter and number games, looking for letters and numbers in their environment, singing rhyming and counting songs, drawing and recognising shapes, talking about curves, edges and corners, playing puzzles and ... read read, read ... reading books to kids at every opportunity!
By providing your child opportunities to play, manipulate and experiment with learning objects such as alphabet based toys, you are helping them put all of the pieces of the puzzle together when it comes time for more formal learning. And if they have mastered all of the skills we spoke about earlier, their ability to learn and take in information will be made much easier.
For example a very crucial part of learning to write is based on a child’s ability to recognise and draw shapes first. So if you think about the capital letter A, it really is also a triangle. The letter O is a circle and so on.
The most important thing for young children is to make it relaxed, exciting and engaging. Kids learn best when they think they are actually playing! Follow your child’s cues and interests and have fun with it!
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Oh I love that suggestion of 'looking for letters and numbers in their environment'. Lucas and I would read house numbers as we walked down the street. And you KNOW that a license plate is a car lovers perfect letter recognition game! Also the car brand. Ford was one of the first words Lucas could sight read.
Recognising shapes and playing with letters - as a game - is a great way to encourage your kids.
So ditch the old fashioned FLASH CARDS and stop worrying about them 'knowing enough'. Lets go and have some fun.
Learning through play is an important concept, it's also really fun! Do you have a favourite learning activity?
Helle is the owner and head toy lover at Lucas loves cars. She has been playing with toys for over 5 years, and still hasn't got it quite right, so will continue to play for a while yet.
- Helle Warming