Child-guided play is a form of play where children are allowed to explore under the guidance of adults. One important factor when it comes to guided play is that adults follow the lead of the child. This allows the child some autonomy to explore. Read more here to learn about the early childhood education frameworks.
Early Childhood Professionals understand the importance of play, so we thought it would be great to include some practical tips that parents can use to support play at home. The following are some tips you can follow to maximize learning through guided play.
1. Be quick to recognize learning opportunities
Whenever your child is engaged in an activity, try to find ways to turn them into learning opportunities. For instance, if you are playing catch with your daughter, you can ask her to count the number of times she catches the ball without dropping it. You can also encourage her to set a record.
2. Ask a lot of questions
Your child will be encouraged to think when you ask questions. Rather than simple questions, you can try asking questions that make them think about cause and effect (why questions) or test a hypothesis (what if questions).
3. Comparing and contrasting
Aside from simple explanations, you can also point out similarities and differences to your child. For instance, you can show them a green and a red apple. Draw attention to the fact that they are both apples yet have different colors.
4. Teaching discovery
Giving your child new information about things he encounters during guided play is good. But, it is better to show him how to discover these things. Child development researchers say that children who see a demonstration of how a discovery is made are more active when it comes to exploration.
5. Be enthusiastic about the interests of your child
Showing some enthusiasm for the interests of your child can encourage him to explore these subjects. For instance, if your child loves cats, you can give him a book about cats. You can also teach him how to find more information about his interests.
6. Celebrate achievements
Celebrate anything your child has achieved no matter how small it is. This positive reinforcement will encourage him to continue exploring and learning. You can reward your child with something he likes each time he achieves something. It can be a special treat or an hour of playing video games.
7. Answer their questions
While asking questions can encourage children to think, they may also find some concepts difficult to understand. Although at times questions can feel a bit annoying, it can also be a form of child guided play! Asking and answering questions is a way for you to maximize learning during play. You can connect the new information with the things your child already knows, and develop a deeper relationship with the child and their passionate interests.
Child-guided play is a good technique for you to let your child play and learn at the same time. Aside from encouraging them to think, it also allows them to discover things around them. Sensory play is another excellent strategy for combining joyful activities and learning at home.
To learn more about the origin of early childhood education and the many influences that make the field what it is today, check out our post about the history of early childhood education.
Leave us a comment below with the other ways you have explored child-guided play, we’d love to hear new ideas.