As an adult, preschool playtime seems so insignificant to the learning process. What does playing with dolls or toy cars have to do with the real world? Well, a lot actually. Playing is the foundation for learning all types of different life skills. When your child plays, he is learning how to interact and conduct himself during a wide range of life events.
When your preschooler plays with his peers, he is learning literacy skills through conversation. Your child will learn to listen and respond to others in order to communicate. Having those conversations teaches your child new words to add to his vocabulary and gives him a better understanding of verbal communication.
Playing with toys such as stuffed animals can teach your child a variety of new words, such as what each animal is called. Playing with animals can also teach your preschooler what sounds each animal makes, what it looks like, where it lives and what it eats. By talking to your child while he plays, you can teach him that a cow makes the “moo” sound, has black and white spots, lives on the farm and eats hay.
Dolls can also teach children life lessons. When a preschooler dresses her doll, she is learning about clothing herself as well. When she plays with her dollhouse, she is learning about domestic life. And when she pretends to comb her doll’s hair, she is learning about personal hygiene.
In this day and age, preschoolers are spending more time playing games on smartphones and tablets than with stuffed animals or dolls. Although technology will keep children occupied for the time being, what happens when the battery runs out? Will your child know how to entertain himself or use his imagination? When a preschooler has to use his brain during playtime, he begins to develop the skills to think critically and problem solve.
Here are a few ways to develop your preschooler’s imagination during playtime:
Arts and Crafts
Crafting is a great way to engage your preschooler and help him use his imagination during playtime. Your child will have to visualize what he wants to make before it even exists, and figure out how to build it using the objects in front of him. Arts and crafts are a fun way to develop critical thinking skills.
Acting and role-playing gives your preschooler the option to be whatever or whoever he wishes. He can pretend to be a lion, a teacher or even a superhero, all while learning! Acting teaches children how to adapt and be creative. It also helps them to express themselves in a healthy way.
Putting a puzzle together with your preschooler involves math and problem solving. Your child will learn about shapes, sizes, colors and much more. By trying to place a puzzle piece, your child has to think, “Is this piece the right size?” “Does the shape of the puzzle piece match the shape of the hole?” “If I turn the puzzle piece a different way, will that make it fit?” Allowing your child to decipher the answers to these questions on his own will teach him to think before he acts.
Have you ever reprimanded your child for walking on the ledge of a sandbox or flowerbed? He was actually learning body awareness by trying to balance on the thin line. Balance beams and balance balls are a fun way for your child to learn about all of his different muscles, and what it takes to maintain equilibrium.
Learning can be all fun and games at the preschool age! By playing and pretending, your child is actually absorbing more knowledge than you know. He is learning communication skills, socialization and self-awareness. So join in on all the fun!