We often consider learning and playing as two separate endeavors. This feeds the misconception that kids mostly learn in formal environments like classrooms and home schools while playing primarily in their spare time to blow off steam. However, the truth is play is very beneficial for kiddos of all ages — even before they’re old enough for a school of any sort.
Parents and educators are increasingly embracing the fact that play is chock full of learning and growing opportunities, as it allows kiddos to practice important skills they will use throughout their entire lives. Using play as a conduit for learning these life skills makes young kids want to participate — because they can laugh, think creatively, communicate, move their bodies and explore the world.
What’s better than the chance to have fun and grow at the same time?
As we mentioned before, it’s never too early to get started on reaping the benefits of play. Here are some of the important areas encouraged during play and learn classes for toddlers.
Developing Toddlers’ Motor Skills
The toddler years are an exciting time for learning to move and manipulate their bodies. The major muscle systems of the arms, legs and trunk are developing via gross motor skills — while the fine motor skills of the wrists, hands and fingers are also getting better during these years.
According to Healthline, many toddlers develop movements like these between one and two years:
- Building towers from blocks
- Scribbling on paper
- Eating with a spoon
- Turning book pages one at a time
- Holding writing utensils between thumb and fingertips
Many beneficial classes for children will encourage them to move their bodies in crucial ways to hone these fine and gross motor skills — often through songs and movement, as well as age-appropriate hands-on tasks.
A healthy amount of movement helps toddlers sleep more soundly because they’re tuckered out from an engaging day. It also has them practice motions they’ll build upon as preschoolers and elementary-aged kiddos.
Facilitating Open-Ended Play
Anyone who’s ever parented or taught a toddler knows how wonderfully curious they can be. Sometimes it seems you can barely walk a couple of feet without kiddo asking what, why, when, where and how about the newest thing to catch their attention. Learn and play classes can and should incorporate this sense of wonder — helping kids think creatively and gain confidence.
Open-ended play lets kids take charge of their own playtime by using the environment and supplies around them to construct whatever world they can dream up. As Healthy Children notes, unstructured playtime is particularly crucial between ages one and three. This source suggests supplying containers, utensils, blocks and puzzles to foster independent, creative forms of play.
Another great thing about the open-ended play is it works for kiddos playing and learning on their own or for groups of little learners
Treating the World as a Classroom
Perhaps the most exciting thing about combining learning with play is the realization the entire world is a toddler’s classroom. One example from Parents uses food in the kitchen to help toddlers recognize and name shapes. But there’s also much to be learned outdoors — from playing in an impromptu back-yard “mud” kitchen to counting items in nature — like flowers, leaves, rocks and birds.
Embrace a variety of environments and activities as you seek to outplay and learn classes for your toddler. There are many physical, emotional and cognitive skills to be learned during this exciting stage of development.