Especially in early childhood, one of the main ways a child learns is by learning through play. But how do babies learn through play?
Play can help a child learn new things, improve their listening skills, develop gross and fine motor skills and coordination, and basically grow both mentally and physically. Almost everything a small child experiences can be a learning experience. By giving a child stimulating play activities, you will be increasing their opportunities for learning.
Learning Through Play – Play can help a child learn new things, improve their listening skills, develop gross and fine motor skills and coordination, and basically grow both mentally and physically.
Especially when children are very young, they experience the world mostly through their physical and visual contact with it.
Games for Babies
Games such as peek-a-boo and hide and seek might just seem like fun, but in actuality they can teach a child that things exist even when they can’t see them. This game can also be played by putting a blanket over a toy, and then removing it to show the toy is still there.
Games that a parent plays with a baby’s fingers and toes, such as “This Little Piggy” are also fun, and can help teach a child about self-discovery.
Other sensory experiences such as toys that have touch and feel panels, or sensory boards with many different textured surfaces are also good ways to give a very young child learning opportunities in a fun way.
Singing to a child, or combining singing and exaggerated facial expressions or body movements are also fun as well as educational for small babies.
Play Activities for Babies 6 to 12 Months
Between six months and a year, babies will be working on body coordination skills, learning to crawl, sit, stand, and walk.
Babies in this age bracket love toys and games that demonstrate the concept of cause and effect, such as turning a page in a book to find a picture or pressing a button to start a song.
Play activities that encourage motor skills practice such as providing containers that balls can be dropped into, or a drum that can be banged to make noise are also fun. Making obstacles courses from pillows and soft toys for a baby to crawl through, or throwing a soft bean bag into a basket so that they can crawl over and retrieve it helps give a baby a chance to practice newly learned crawling skills.
Children in their first year also love having silly songs sung to them, as well as having books read. Although recognizable words are generally not spoken until after their first birthday, babies will start to play with language, mimicking sounds that they hear.
By singing and reading to a young child, you will help them start to familiarize themselves with the spoken language.
Children of this age often have favorite books or songs, and enjoy those which have hand movements that go along with them. Although it’s too early to put too much emphasis on language and object recognition, a game of going around the house and finding objects and saying the object’s name can be fun and educational.
Activities such as this shouldn’t be approached as a structured learning activity or a test of any kind, but instead as a fun way for parent and child to explore their surroundings together.
For under twenty-four month old toddlers, see: Learn Through Play – The Second Year