4 Tips for Making Play Time More Educational

Children Learn Through Play
By Lauren Bailey

Any good nanny knows the importance of a good education. Children with an education more readily know the difference between right and wrong. They are quick thinkers and adept at analyzing new information. A solid education is one of the most important parts of a healthy childhood. But, at the same time, a life with nothing but hitting the books is also unhealthy. That’s why it’s so important to help children understand that learning is not just about reading textbooks and doing math assignments. Learning is a part of everyday life. By integrating learning into your charge’s play time, you can help them learn by having fun.

Here are some great tips for making learning a bigger part of your day and play time.

1. Pay attention to the children’s interests.
When it’s time to play, the one thing any caretaker needs to do is actually allow the children to have fun. This means that play time does not center on what you want to do or what you think they want to do. Play time should focus on what the child gravitates toward and thinks is fun, otherwise, it isn’t much of a play time at all, right? The same can be said for attempting to incorporate learning into play time. It should feel seamless, not forced. The best thing to do is pay special attention to what each, individual, child loves. He or she will give you subtle clues. If their eyes light up or if you find that they want to do a certain activity over and over, they are getting some form of stimulation from it. Use your knowledge of their interests and passions so you can cultivate more activities that will be both educational and fun.

2. Ask questions.
One of the best ways to sprinkle in a little learning with your play time (or even in your everyday activities and chores) is by asking questions. Instead of telling children what to do and waiting as they silently complete a series of tasks, try asking them what needs to be done and why. There are plenty of ways you can incorporate questions into play time. If a child is playing house and setting up a tea party, you can ask simple things like, “What would happen if the tea cup dropped on the floor?” Asking simple questions is a great way to get a conversation started and get a child thinking and communicating about things in new ways.

3. Pose problems.
If you’re in the middle of play time, and everything is going swimmingly, then posing a problem can add a little bit of edge and intrigue to a game, while enhancing children’s problem-solving skills. If you’re playing pretend, simply add a hiccup in the plans. Maybe an essential toy goes missing, and you need to play detective to get it back. The clues can be some of the things he or she is working on in school, such as addition or subtraction.

4. Never make learning a chore.
The best way to always make sure that play time has some learning involved is to see that learning is never given a bad rap. Sure, there will be times when any child gets sick of school or tired of homework, but if learning is made to feel like a drag, so will playing in an educational way. Changing the script so learning is seen as discovery is a great way to get kids excited about learning at all times, not just when it amounts to a game. By upholding an optimistic and carefree attitude when it comes to learning new things, children will be less likely to associate all learning with the doldrums of going to school.

. Lauren welcomes comments and questions via email at blauren 99 @gmail.com.

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