One of the greatest joys of being a parent is the moment you see a new concept gel for your child. It’s that proverbial lightbulb moment, if you will. Triggering that response when your child doesn’t realize they’re learning is even more satisfying. This is one of the chief benefits of structured playtime. The little ones think they’re playing, while you know they’re acquiring knowledge, skills and experience.
Let’s take a look at some of the ways games and activities can help kids learn.
1. Take a Listening Walk
This activity encourages children to stop and listen to the sounds in their environment, identify them and articulate what they’ve heard. At face value it might seem like you’re just taking a walk, but it’s actually an opportunity for you to encourage the development of their communication skills, curiosity, focus and self-control.
A game such as this also holds the potential to unleash your child’s inner naturalist. Moreover, it introduces the benefits of an active lifestyle, even as it hones their gross motor development and sensory abilities, along with their persistence and grit.
2. Pulley Play
It’s amazing how excited kids get when they discover this game makes them so much stronger than they thought they were before. Simple to set up, pulley play keeps children occupied for hours as they look for items to lift. In the process you’ll experience the joy of watching them exercise focus and self control, as well as problem-solving skills.
Playing with pulleys also improves your child’s gross motor faculties and self-reliance. Moreover, it’s a perfect opportunity to work in scientific principles, as you explain why the pulleys let them manage so much weight effectively. In addition to science, this awakens their appreciation of technology, engineering and math.
3. Climb a Tree
Those of us of a certain (ahem) age are often surprised to learn more than a third of children between the ages of six and fifteen have yet to have ever climbed a tree. There was a time when this was a childhood staple. Yes, it can be a bit dangerous if poorly supervised, however the benefits your child will derive from doing so outweigh the risks by a huge margin.
Some of the best learning activities for kids awaken critical thinking skills, even while introducing the benefits of an active lifestyle. What’s more, once they’ve seen the view from up there, they’ll want to be outside climbing trees all the time. Along the way, their gross motor capabilities and self-esteem will blossom as well. Again, you do have to be careful to choose a tree that will both hold their weight and be challenging without being death defying. But it’s well worth the effort.
4. When a Sheet Is Not a Sheet
Just as kids can have more fun with a box than the toy it contained, a simple bed sheet can be a catalyst of hours of fun as well as the development of a number of skills your child will need later in life. A sheet can be a magic carpet, a cloak of invisibility, a ship — whatever a group of kids decide to collectively imagine it to be.
And, therein lies the developmental opportunities.
Play of this nature stimulates communication, creativity, imagination and teamwork as children use their imaginations and convey to one another the ideas they generate. They also collaborate to realize the visions of one another as game after game after game flows out of their brainstorming sessions.
These four ways games and activities can help children learn are but a small sampling of what can be accomplished with minimal materials and a lot of imagination. Who knew so much early childhood development could occur from playing such simple games?