The Circuit Breaker has just ended and parents across Singapore are heaving sighs of relief that their children are back in school (peace and quiet at last!). The CB cum May school holiday period should hopefully have provided your children some opportunities to find creative ways to stem their boredom i.e. Play! Now that school has re-started, do remember to still give your children a chance to play when they come home, and hopefully to learn as they play.
“What about learning?”
A common misconception is that play reduces the time a child has for “true learning”, but when your child is educated through play, he/she has the chance to work out other “muscles” in their brain! For example, simple stacking or building something out of blocks trains their fine motor skills, creativity, problem solving skills and independence.
Get involved in their playtime to educate them. Here are some ideas for you to try with your child to get them to practice.
1) Playing with objects
If your child is less than a year old, let them hold safe objects of different colours and textures while you say the object’s name and describe them. You can wave the objects about and let them try to grab them, then hide them around the child/yourself and spring them up as a “surprise!”. Help your child practise fine motor skills such as grasping, followed by sorting and arranging as they grow. Lego bricks are great toys for older children to creatively build something from their imagination or to learn to follow step by step visual guides to create a finished product.
2) Physical play
Whole body activities like jumping and running, as well as fine motor activities like cutting and colouring build children’s muscular strength and coordination. These are important foundations for their ability to sit at a table and to write. Parents of babies have different versions of “jump jump baby!” where they carry their child and raise them high or bounce them/let them hop on your laps. Hide and seek is a great game to play with older kids at home during this COVID-19 period, else draw a simple hopscotch on the floor with chalk or masking tape. Doing such activities together encourages social communication and teamwork.
3) Pretend play
It takes creativity and imagination to pretend that a comb is a phone, a bed is a spaceship and an empty box is a robot.
You will also notice that children engaging in pretend play often talk about what they are doing – this takes a good language foundation and it helps them to practice expressing themselves. Play indoors together during this period by using household objects. Ask your child to pretend to be a chef with makeshift cooking utensils and ask them to explain the menu and take orders from you. Extend this activity by asking the little chef to set prices, collect payment and give change! You can also play in a similar way by setting up a minimart with various items and taking turns to be a ‘cashier’ or ‘customer’.
4) Games with rules
A round of Charades, Uno (easy to learn and quickly becomes a favourite) or a board game requires the child to practice taking-turns, follow instructions and to stick to rules. This type of play prepares the child for the more regimented school setting in a fun way.
Make Learning More Playful!
“But I want them to at least work on some assessment books.”
We also have teaching manipulatives that can be used to make learning more “playful”. Children that use our Visual Graphing and CVC Pegging Cards train their fine motor and visual discrimination skills while they work on vocabulary or phonemic awareness. They can learn sorting, counting, numbers and Math with our colourful bear counters set. The Skoolzy range of products are great for younger children to play and learn various topics at the same time – colours & shape recognition, counting & math, fine motor (pegging & stacking) and manual dexterity.
Flash cards might appear quite boring but there are actually many ways you can use them besides just.. flashing. Our flash cards of Dolch list Sight Words come with activity guides with several suggested ways on how they can be used in a fun way. You can also refer to this.
Our Literacy and Numeracy books include board games for reading or Math and we have a totally hands-on set of activities in our Learn Aa to Zz Book with fun activities for young children to learn letter names and shapes without needing writing drills.