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Learning Through Play

 Parents at Play


Your role as a parent should not end with enrolling in a toy library and borrowing toys every week or month. It’s your job to monitor your child’s play and ensure that she is actually learning. Many educational toys require an adult to sit with the child and teach her how to manipulate them. Left to her own devices, your child may not even understand the purpose of the toy, let alone use it correctly and effectively.

Of course, never underestimate the power of free play, where the child is left alone to devise games on her own and make do with what she has around her to keep herself occupied.

And don’t depend wholly on toys and games to teach your child. You expect your child to be creative – why not show some creativity yourself? There are so many ‘home’ games that you can play with your child that can teach her, while simultaneously entertain her. Here are a few DIY game ideas:

  • Teaching colours, shapes and sizes using pots, pans, fruits and vegetables
  • Incorporating numbers and colours in everyday conversation. For instance, you can send your child to a cupboard and tell her to pick out three red colour t-shirts, or simply ask her to identify the colour of the dress she wears each day
  • Playing ‘I-spy’, by thinking of an object in the child’s environment, telling her the starting letter, describing it, and asking her to guess the object – this helps teach basic phonics
  • Playing simple games while travelling by car; games which test speed and presence of mind. For instance, you can ask your child to name five things outside the car window which are green in colour
  • Word-building: an evergreen game, where children use the last letter of a word as the starting letter of a new word, and thus build a chain of words
  • ATLAS: Word building using place names; teaches geography
  • Kneading dough in the kitchen can teach children fine motor skills
  • Keep a box of everyday items like toy telephones, notebooks, plastic dishes or coloured blocks handy so that children can ‘pretend play’
  • Arrange playdates with children of the same age; this will encourage ‘parallel play’ which helps develop social skills (refer to our Tips, Tricks and To-Do Lists article in Issue 4 on Planning Playdates and Sleepovers)
  • Encourage your child to participate in physical activities like hide and seek, dancing and riding bicycles, rather than in sedentary ones like watching television


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