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What can I do to help or encourage my child to learn through play?

Until your child is old enough to go to school, perhaps the most effective way for her to learn is through play.

Young children get bored very easy and their levels of concentration are exceptionally low. But because play time is fun, this really doesn’t matter.

One of your jobs as a parent is to try to ensure that your child gets the most from her play time. The following points should help you do just that...

Join in the fun
You child will learn a great deal from playing by himself but ten times more if you join in the fun. However, there are occasions where he will just want to play on his own, so remember to give him some space when he needs it.

Books are the most obvious way to help you child learn. However, you must make reading fun in order for young children to get the most out of it. Board books and pop-up books are the best way to combine play and reading.

Group play
Playing with other children not only encourages your child to socialize but it also helps develop their co-operation skills and a greater understanding of sharing. However, it’s not advisable to rush your child into group play too quickly. Very young children will often not want to play directly with another child. It’s only when they reach the age of three or four, that children tend to become more comfortable with sharing a toy or interacting with another child.

Encourage creativity
You cannot physically give your child creativity but you can give them every opportunity to develop in this crucial area. Always make sure your son or daughter has paper, crayons, building blocks and any other creative tool available. And when she does draw, build or create something, lavish her with praise, even if it isn’t that great. Encourage her and perhaps next time it will be.

Computer games
Despite what you may think, computer games aren’t the work of the devil. Yes, many children in the UK play on their Playstation and X-Box machines far too much. And yes, many games are not suitable for young children. However, playing compute games in moderation can greatly help improve a child’s co-ordination, visual perception and reaction times. The problem is stopping your child becoming addicted and telling them when it's time to put the control pad down.

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