5 Reasons Why Kids Learn Through Play & Exploration

The concept of learning through play and exploration has been a topic for debate for a long time. At Lagom Kids, we believe that all children have the limitless ability to imagine, create and make choices for themselves. Children who are free to play and explore grow up confident in themselves.

Recent research has taught us that the most crucial period of human development is from birth to eight years of age. With proper stimulation, a child’s brain can form several neural connections at a very fast pace. Research has shown that learning through play and exploration creates stronger holistic results in the development and simulation for the child.

Benefits of Learning Through Play and Exploration

Here are 5 benefits of why kids learn through play and exploration

Stimulates Brain Development and Improve Cognitive Functions
Play and exploration creates unique and powerful opportunities in several aspects of your child’s development. Children are hands-on learners and they learn best through first-hand experiences. They gain new experiences and knowledge through interaction with their environment. By exposing your child to play and exploration of their constantly changing surroundings, you encourage their spontaneous exploration and self-discovery.
For example, by figuring out how to put building blocks together to create a toy car, it encourages cognitive thinking, observation, prediction, and problem solving. Another example is when learning a new dance pattern – it allows your child to understand the concept of patterns which is an essential foundation for mathematics. Pretend play also encourages your child to express their ideas and thoughts through creativity, imagination and critical thinking. All of which creates a real and authentic context for your child’s learning in abstract areas such as mathematics, science, language and literacy.
Through child-led play and exploration, children get to try new possibilities, form new skills, and identify new challenges. Through these processes, children can absorb new information and reconcile it with existing information. This allows them to either create further insight into pre-existing knowledge or to create brand new informative pieces of knowledge.

Promotes Holistic Development and Learning
Learning through play and exploration also gives your child the freedom to learn without restrictions. The opportunities presented in play creates a platform for children to explore their fears, anxieties, likes, dislikes, and allows them to fully be themselves as a child. Because of the lack of restraints, there are fewer rules and structures, allowing them to explore and overcome challenges. It also allows children to experiment, take risks and make mistakes without the fear of failure.

Improves Their Overall Physical Well-Being
By promoting play and exploration, it encourages children to spend more time in the outdoors. Children who are physically active are more likely to be healthy and have a stronger bone density due to more exposure to sunlight and vitamin D.
Being in the outdoors also strengthens their fundamental movement skills and coordination. This is especially so when they engage in different activities which require them to use different body parts.
Internally, children who are more involved in play and exploration also develops better respiratory health and stronger immune systems. With the decrease in usage of electronics, children who are actively participating in play outdoors are also at a lower risk of developing myopia and other related health issues.

Nurtures Their Mental Health
As children grow and start to be more aware of their surroundings, they become more conscious about their state of mental wellbeing. They learn to select and engage in activities and audiences that pique their interest. This results in higher confidence levels and more motivation to do better in whatever they are doing.

When children play and partake in activities that they enjoy and make them happy, their level of attention and ability to focus is honed, allowing them to develop faster mentally as well as physically.
There is also evidence that shows that the level of enjoyment and choice of activity chosen by the children contributes to a higher integration and application of learning.
Children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) also benefit strongly from play and exploration when they are actively engaged in an activity that they chose themselves.

Enhances Social-Emotional and Interpersonal Skills
Interaction during play and exploration plays a huge role in developing a child’s socioemotional and interpersonal skills. When children play and interact, they form relationships between themselves and the other players. These relationships have an essential influence over how a child perceives and experiences their surroundings and events happening around them. During play, it is crucial that parents provide a space for learning and positive socioemotional development.

When children play amongst themselves, it opens opportunities to communicate ideas, opinions, and understand relationships through social interactions. Examples like sharing toys with each other or coming up with a plan to tackle potential disagreements allows children to try out new communication methods such as negotiation, conflict solving as well as self-advocacy skills. It also teaches your child interpersonal skills such as leadership as well as how to work in a group setting.

Additionally, play and exploration aids in cultivating children’s resilience and respect as they learn to deal with different challenges in their social groups that may appear. Play can be a means of handling problems and allowing your child to exercise some autonomy in decision making. This development creates proactive and competent learners who are able to make their own decisions and deal with conflict. On top of that, these children would be better equipped to conceive and execute ideas because they are able to express their thoughts creatively.

Activities to Promote Play and Exploration

Play and exploration can be cost effective and simple. Here are some activities that can encourage your child to learn through playing.
1. Water Play
2. Play Dough
3. Dress Up and Role Play
4. Doll and Character Play
5. Drawing and Painting
6. Block, Jigsaws and Shape Sorters
7. Music, Dancing and Singing
8. Imaginative Play
9. Running, Jumping, Climbing and Swinging
10. Nature Play
11. Sensory Play
12. Basic Board Games
13. Cooking and Pretend-Cooking

The benefits of learning through play and exploration are endless. Ultimately, it creates an environment for children to be imaginative and gain control of their own learning. This provides the children the most developmentally appropriate groundwork for future endeavours.