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"The most effective kind of education is that a child should play amongst lovely things."
~ Plato
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Learning Through Play

Play is an essential part of growing up. Through play children learn about the world around them, therefore it is important to understand how valuable toys and play are to the development of children. A child with a wide range of well-selected toys is more likely to be challenged and stimulated.

Studies have found higher levels of intellectual development through play regardless of child's sex, race or social class.

Whether playing alone or with others, quietly or with enthusiasm, play is the way children explore their world and create their own.

Generally there are 4 types of play:

• Imitation play (e.g. child copies movements of teachers)
• Practice or mastery play (e.g. swinging rope for the pleasure)
• Symbolic play (e.g. swinging rope now becomes a rocket ship travelling to the moon).
• Games with rules (e.g. Hide and seek)

Symbolic play or make believe play dominates the years of toddlers up to Nursery-school age.

Why is play important?

Through play children discover their limits and special talents. In the process they learn how to deal with emotions such as;

• happiness
• sadness
• fear and anger

Research shows that through play children learn to plan and solve problems, play encourages them to develop language skills, communication skills and to use imagination and creativity. Physical play helps the child develop agility, balance, coordination and fine motor skills.

Children Learn Best Through Play:

Play helps children develop concepts and help them understand how things and ideas are connected. It also helps basic skills in...

• reading
• writing
• communication

Children natural love to learn and would do so at their own pace. Imposing strict classroom format for learning before a child is ready may inhibit their creativity and willingness to try things on their own.

Play makes learning enjoyable because it allows children to develop and explore the world at their own pace. When children play their self-worth and confidence grow and they begin to master tasks they choose.

Tips for Promoting Healthy Development

Be warm, loving and responsive
Respond to the child's cues and clues
Talk, read, and sing to your child
Establish routines and rituals
Encourage safe exploration and play
Make TV watching selective
Use discipline as an opportunity to teach
Recognize that each child is unique
Choose quality child care and stay involved
Take care of yourself
- from I Am Your Child



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