It’s no secret that children learn best through play and there have been countless studies done in support of this fact, these days parents everywhere are looking for new ways to pack the most educational benefits into their children’s playtime. While there is certainly a surplus of “educational” toys marketed specifically for children’s enrichment and learning, parents don’t always need to head out to the store for the latest toy when they usually have everything they need to provide endless opportunities for learning already in their home.
With the recent wave of eco-conscious parenting that has flooded the nation, parents and caregivers are discovering out of the ordinary educational possibilities in every day toys; one parent who really stretches her children’s imaginations through play with household items is Catherine Moss. Catherine regularly fills large shoe boxes with bulk dried beans and small toys like alphabet fridge magnets turning these average items into sensory bean boxes where her children can dig, pour, sort, pretend and more with the beans and box contents. Every day items like these are being used by parents in a variety of ways to encourage and reinforce counting, sensory development, and spatial skills, while simple tricks, like encouraging a child to describe their choice in dress-up clothes for a pretend play, help children develop valuable social and language skills.
Reinforce Life Skills at Home
It’s natural for parents to want their children to succeed in school and in life, which is why the recent push for the mastery certain skills before Kindergarten has propelled parents across socio-economic classes to seek out new ways to help their children be ahead of their peers. Homeschooling parents like Christina Strickland have been incorporating learning into every day activities as a natural extension of their day to day life. Christina suggests that parents talk to their children and explain the processes as they go throughout the day, for example: “When you cook together, explain fractions; when you do laundry, talk about how washing machines work; and when you go for a walk, point out animal prints or how the leaves have changed.” Since children has a deep rooted desire to learn and are sponges for information, parents are learning how every day life can open up the possibility of learning, simply by doing.
Parents are also finding new ways to repurpose some of their children’s older toys or toys that have been passed down over the years. Educational consultant and mother, Candice Lindemann likes to use her son’s old toy cars to reinforce the concept of physics and gravity with ramps and tunnels made from blocks and tubes from other games. She also suggest using animal figurines to learn about the different animal classifications, to reinforce size difference, and more. More and more, parents are finding new ways to sneak learning into playtime. Whether they’re practicing counting and currency skills with the play money that came with their parent’s monopoly game or sorting and building with their blocks, there’s no doubt children have ample sources of education and play surrounding them, not only in their “educational toys” but also in their beloved baby doll. The opportunities for learning through play are endless and parents are just beginning to truly grasp the possibilities found in their every day toys and household items.