My Top 5 Reasons Why Playing is Learning

Playing is a big part of our day around here. We play all sorts of things like dinosaurs and baby dolls. I am all about pretending and using our imagination. It’s great! But aside from fun, playing has other wonderful benefits to our little people.

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1. Speech development
Elle has been going to speech therapy since the beginning of the year. Playtime is a great time to naturally focus on the sounds on which she needs to work. For example, when we play babies Elle becomes Dr. Elle and we can /f/igure out i/f/ the baby has a /f/ever and what we need to do to /f/ix her booboo. Can you tell we are now working on the /f/ sound? I try to incorporate words that have the sound and as we have our conversation she repeats some of those words; it’s a great way to practice.
2. Vocabulary expansion
When we play together we talk a lot. And this is a fabulous time for me to add in “big” words. In fact the other week while playing dinosaurs I asked if the dinosaurs were going to battle. Elle immediately perked up and asked what battle meant. “It means to fight,” I told her. Since then I have heard her use that word several times in conversation, and she has correctly used the word.
3. Problem solving
One thing my kiddos love to pretend is being different animals. They also like to pretend being a scientist who is looking for a particular animal so they can observe or help the animal. This opens up the door to their creativity: how can we help the fox find its home? Let’s build a den! And there you have it, now we are figuring out how to build a fort and make it have the characteristics of a fox’s den. There are so many ways to incorporate this skill. Playing with blocks automatically puts this skill to use.
4. Modeling manners
Playing with my children gives me a chance not only to reinforce please and thank you but to show how to act or behave in different situations. If Elle is being the mommy and I am the daughter and my “mommy” doesn’t give me the candy I asked for, I don’t throw a fit. This is my opportunity to show her how to accept a negative response to her requests. Sometimes, I will behave badly and we later talk about why it’s not okay to behave in that way.
5. Learning something new
I love it when we come to a part in our game when it takes on a new direction, I can explain how something works. The other day while playing pet shop we eventually came to a point where we were learning how money is made. As the pet shop owner of 16 triceratops, I wanted to make sure that the purchaser of 6 triceratops had enough land and money to care for these creatures. I asked Elle “how do you make money?” She explained that she takes paper and cuts it into rectangles then draws on it to make her money. (I tried really hard not to laugh, she took my question so literal.) I proceeded to be upset that she would dare use counterfeit money and that I wouldn’t be able to sell her any animals. Then I took this as a learning opportunity and explained what counterfeit was and showed her a video from the mint so she could see how money is printed.
We have fun playing. We are learning while playing. And for this homeschool mom, learning when it doesn’t feel like learning is the absolute best.

Linked up at A Little R&R