Play is the Way Children Learn

When Teaching New Skills, Start with What your Child Knows and Enjoys

Play is the way children learn. They love to play with their parents and other caring adults. Here are some simple rules of play:

  • Watch. Watch your child and observe his interests and his skill level. You are learning about how he plays.
  • Let your child lead. Join in and play at your child’s level. If you try to teach too much too fast, your child might get upset.
  • Be accepting. Ask your child to tell you what he’s doing and say something good about it.
  • Show him how to do something slightly more difficult. After playing the same games many times, you might show him something a little bit harder to play. If your child can put together a two-piece puzzle, try one with three pieces. If your child likes building with blocks, you might show him how to combine block play with toy animals.
  • Watch again. Every now and then, stop playing and just watch your child play. Watch how he explores his new activity. After your child learns to do something by himself, you can join in and suggest another new activity.
  • Remember, your child’s attention span is short. When he decides to stop playing, let him.