Play-based learning has many developmental benefits for your little one including enhancing their cognitive skills, building their vocabulary, and building their social skills.  It is also a great way for you to bond with your little ones as well.    What they are learning is now, they can carry these skills through life with them.    Having your kids use their imagination can make for a creative thinker later in life. 

Our son had a speech delay due to problems with his hearing.  When he would get ear infections, it would take a significant amount of time for the fluid to drain. After he got tubes, this helped significantly, but it left him with a bit of a speech delay.   It is amazing how 20-25 minutes a day of play-based learning can help build up your child’s vocabulary.   Many of these tips we worked on together with his therapists and they have made a significant difference in his language.  

 These tips from our therapists helped him improve his speech, and today I use these same play-based learning tips with my daughter as well.

Are you looking to lay the foundation for play-based learning from the beginning?   As a parent you strive to do your very best each day to set your little one up for success through play-based learning; however it can be overwhelming, and you may be spending a lot of time doing research.  “The American Academy of Pediatrics issued a report that called for parents spending more time playing with their kids – and focus on simple, old fashioned toys instead of high-tech ones.” (Parents Magazine, Ways to Boost Your Child’s IQ)  

I have some great tips that can help you get started and the make most out of your child’s play-based learning.   

Some tips can help you get started.  

Let Them Choose

Play-based learning should be geared toward your child’s interests. If your child is into cars, incorporate cars into their play-based learning. My son’s therapist would always let him choose the subject that he prefers, or gave him options to choose in therapy sessions.  Studies had shown that kids learn best when they are motivated and being in control.  You should not orchestrate it, it should be child-directed.   

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Eliminate Distractions 

Play-based learning should be free from all televisions, electronic devices, phones and any shiny object that will distract your precious time with your little one.    You want their little mind to be able to entirely focus on the task at hand and being creative – and not being distracted from any shiny objections that make sounds. 

Allow Them to Take Risks

Allowing your child to take risk enables them to learn from their mistakes.   By making these risks, they can gain some problem-solving skills.  Let them come up with solutions and recommendations.  

Ask lots of Open-Ended Questions

 Ask lots of open-ended questions with what they are already doing.  If your child is already playing, you can come right next to them and take their lead.    If your child says, “I have lots of guys,” you can say,  “How many do you have, let’s count together,” or you can ask “What Colors are they”?  Facilitating a back and forth conversation with stimulating questions during play can help boost a child’s vocabulary.  Also adding on to what the child’s saying gives them the opportunity to expand their language even further.  

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Reading is a tremendous way to build up your child’s vocabulary.   Using ‘dialogue reading’ is a great way to allow your child to be creative with the story which leads them to expand on their language development.   Read the story with much enthusiasm and gestures as you can.  Make sure your child is as interactive as possible in the story.  Ask your child to take a look at the story and ask them what they think is going on, ask questions and point out keywords.  This will allow them to learn more concepts and words.   

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Play-based learning not only allows your kids to explore, discover, negotiate, take risks, become creative and solve problems – (all of which help develop literacy, numeracy, and social skills), but it also gives you that one on one time with your little one that they will cherish. 

“Did you know that the first five years of childhood has critical implications for wellbeing and later success in school, at work, and in the community – more so than learning in any other stage of life.” (Canadian Council on Learning, 2010, p. 4)