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Learning does not have to be isolated to a school environment, and it doesn’t need to have formal boundaries and regulations. By incorporating play-based learning at home, you can help your children learn valuable skills necessary for independence and growth while also allowing them to enjoy the time they spend playing. Here are a few tips for encouraging play-based learning at home.


Be Open-Minded

A key facet of play-based learning is that there is no one right way to go about things. If a child wants to combine block-building with dolls, or if a child wants to use a toy car in a way that defies its official function, let them. There’s no harm in innovation or creativity, and allowing children to experiment can be productive. Keeping toys organized does not need to be a priority during playtime, either. Clean-up, of course, is a different story.


Let Children Take Control

Now, this doesn’t mean you should surrender all authority, but rather that play should be child-directed. Whether or not you participate in the play, you should encourage children to create their own scenarios and projects when you can. This helps foster a sense of independence while also challenging their creativity.

If you do take part in their play time, you should try to follow their lead. Asking questions and providing your own description of what you are doing can help grow their vocabulary while also allowing an opportunity for bonding by demonstrating your investment in the play time.


Ideas for Play

There are many ways to implement play-based learning at home. A few ideas include dramatic play, puzzles and pattern making, and artistic projects.

Dramatic play entails a sort of storytelling, which fosters imagination and communication skills; children will assume roles and take part in problem solving activities of their own creation, and supplying costumes or props can help make the process more engaging and tangible.

Puzzles and pattern making (with building blocks or other objects) can challenge children’s ability to process information, and by participating in this kind of exercise, they can develop cognitive abilities while having fun.

Artistic projects like collages made from magazine cutouts can involve finding items that share a quality (such as the color green, or things that are cold). This kind of project can facilitate organization and categorization which stimulates cognitive function as well as fine motor skills.


With some creativity and innovation of your own, implementing play-based activities doesn’t have to be challenging. By understanding the benefits of certain activities and the necessity of play for child development, you can encourage play-based learning and facilitate growth, education, and fun.