Beyond Education: How Balanced Play Prepares Children for School Success
As a parent, you want to give your child the best possible start in life. And education is a vital part of that. But how can you ensure that your child is developing the skills they need to succeed in school and beyond? The answer is simple: through play.
In fact, research has found that play is a critical component of early childhood development. And educational toys and games can play a significant role in supporting your child’s learning.
In this article, we’ll explore the benefits of educational toys and play, and how you can ensure that your child is getting a well-rounded experience.
The benefits of educational toys
Educational toys and games come in all shapes and sizes, from building blocks to puzzles to board games. And they offer a range of benefits for your child’s development.
First and foremost, educational toys can help your child feel more confident in their abilities.
According to our very own Dr Amanda Gummer…
“There’s no doubt that children who feel confident with their numbers and letters are more likely to engage fully in classes. This will in turn, help them learn more and become more confident – and so the virtuous circle continues.“
In addition to confidence, educational toys can help your child develop a range of other skills. For example, playing with building blocks can improve their spatial awareness, while puzzles can help them develop problem-solving skills. Board games, meanwhile, can help your child develop their social skills, as they learn to take turns, communicate, and work together with others.
Soft skills are key
Of course, education is more than just reading and writing. Soft skills, such as resilience, creativity, and social skills, are just as important for success in school and beyond. And educational toys and play can help your child develop these skills, too.
For example, playing with building blocks can help your child develop their creativity and imagination, as they build and experiment with different structures. And board games can help them develop their social skills, as they learn to cooperate with others and communicate effectively.
Using a balanced approach to play
While educational toys and play are important, it’s also essential to balance them with other types of play.
According to our research, over nine in 10 children spend enough time on educational play, but only a quarter get enough active, free play.
This suggests that educational play is being prioritized over other types of play, even though these are vital to well-rounded development and school readiness.
Our Balanced Play Pyramid, therefore, shows a way to get a good mix of the different types of play, in a way that will help children reach their full potential while enjoying happy, healthy childhoods.
Because the Play Pyramid doesn’t give a fixed amount of time that parents ‘should’ dedicate to each type of play, it can be adjusted to suit any family and any amount of free leisure time.
With this in mind, we recommend that children spend more time on active, social, imaginative and creative play than using educational toys and games.
Educational toys and play can play a critical role in supporting your child’s learning and development. But it’s important to remember that soft skills, such as creativity and social skills, are just as important as academic skills. And by using a balanced approach to play, you can ensure that your child is getting a well-rounded experience that will set them up for success in school and beyond.
For more information on the benefits of open-ended, creative play, read the second article in this series.