The majority of us parents have shared the experience of picking up your child from preschool and asking “what did you do today?” and always getting the response “I played.” While we always hope for details of our child’s day, it is also important to remember just how much children can learn by playing! Through play, children develop many important language, cognitive, and social skills, as well as pre-academic skills that will serve them well throughout their education.
While we know the benefits of play on children’s development, it is helpful to remember specific skills they are leaning through play so we can foster their continued development. For example, when playing with blocks, children can learn large and small muscle control, hand-eye coordination, spatial relationships, comparisons for size and shapes, and problem-solving skills. When playing with playdough, children learn to see shapes against a background (e.g. the table), which is a pre-reading skill. They learn of shapes, sizes, and other attributes. They learn color mixing and they gain the sensory input from squeezing, rolling, and pounding the play-dough. When playing with cars and trucks, children learn about shape, size, color, lengths, and parts-to-whole relationships (e.g. the tire of the car, the door of the car). When playing with water they learn hand-eye coordination when pouring water, empty and full concepts, and they learn about volume and weight, which is relevant to mathematics. When sorting items, children learn to notice details and to identify similarities and differences. They also learn to categorize, which is a very crucial reading and math skill. Sorting also leads to development of size, shape, and color concepts, as well as logical reasoning. That is a lot of important skills all while having fun!
Through play, children acquire the foundational skills needed for reading, mathematics and social skills. Play is the way children learn about themselves and the world. In addition, play encourages independence, self-esteem, creativity, and gets their energy out! As speech-language pathologists at Susan Cohn and Associates, we frequently rely on play to cater to each child’s interests while meeting their developmental needs through early intervention services. We see the benefit of play on continued development of specific skills and encourage you to play with your child so you can experience these benefits as well!
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