With constant debates about the correct way to teach early skills to toddlers and preschoolers, it’s no wonder that parents are prone to scrutinising and doubting their abilities when it comes to the way they approach the subject at home.
Experience and experiment
Despite a never-ending stream of new methods, it seems that there is one that has stood the test of time, and is the most natural of all – letting children learn through play. The first few years of a child’s life are the most crucial for their development and The Pre-school Alliance believes that by simply doing and talking are “the means by which young children learn to think”. Children need to experiment and experience for themselves, and once they have established a meaning for something, they can begin to learn new ideas by following this pattern from memory.
Problem-solving and decision-making
The National Children’s Bureau’s research has interestingly found that as children grow “their play grows in complexity and becomes more cognitively and socially demanding”. Children will always face new challenges in their day-to-day lives, in which they are prompted to make decisions and take action. So play is actually a form of self-teaching that will affect the next judgement they have to make.
When it comes to applying this approach in the home, it seems that less is more. Let your toddler do (within reason) what they want to do, as this encourages expression and discovery. You can of course steer their activities to a room-, time- or weather-appropriate activity, but once the activity is laid out, let your child run with it and see what happens.
Books that stimulate learning through play
As a children's book publisher, it's obvious that we're going to point you in the direction of books! But hear us out because books are so much more than printing on paper. They inspire curiosity, teach ideas, stretch imaginations, build new worlds – the possibilities are endless.
Our Convertibles are great-value options to inspire learning through play – and here's why.
It's a sit-inside toy… your child can play Ice Cream Shops or drive a vehicle with a steering wheel – Tractor, Police Car, Fire Engine and more.
It's a play mat… fold out the book into a long playmat with an illustrated story route. Children can follow the story with their own toys, helping them to absorb new ideas and spark their own inquisitiveness.
It's a storybook… enjoy a little quiet time with your child as you read together about a character's adventure along the road or route of the playmat.
Children will love reading a giant book with a simple story, where they can spot different things on every page.